Project Spotlight: Chamah Assistance for Elderly in the FSU

The Fellowship  |  November 24, 2020

Georgy Arkadyevich Sukalsky, 91 years old, elderly man sits on a bed with a cane, tan sweater, seen from a distance, tan sweater

Many of Russia’s neediest Jews are elderly who lived through the horrors of the Holocaust in their youth, and now once again lack even the basic help that they deserve.

These needy elderly cannot afford both food and the high out-of-pocket costs for their medical treatment. So many of these Russian Jews go undiagnosed and untreated for controllable health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and arthritis – simply because they have to choose between buying medicine and buying food.

The Fellowship helps these individuals who have fallen through the cracks of Russia’s overwhelmed and underfunded health care system. Through our partnership with Chamah, a humanitarian organization dedicated to helping needy Jews in the former Soviet Union (FSU), we strive to ensure that every elderly Jew in the FSU will receive the food, medical assistance, and homecare he or she needs.

A Meaningful Friendship

Georgy’s daughter Katina knew it was time to ask for help. Her 91-year-old father just lost his wife, and his health started declining. One day, Georgy went for a long walk, but then forgot where he was or how to get home, and this really worried her.

First Katina called the doctor, who confirmed that her father indeed had dementia. Then Katina called Chamah and The Fellowship, who had always been there for her parents.

Years earlier, Georgy and his wife both enjoyed going to the Chamah Community Center to celebrate Jewish holidays. “A rabbi would explain the meaning of Jewish traditions,” says Georgy. This was particularly meaningful for people like Georgy who were born and raised in the height of the Soviet era when Jews still weren’t allowed to openly celebrate their faith and many children were never taught Jewish traditions.

Today, though, Georgy needs daily care, so Chamah sent him Valentina, a home healthcare worker. She brings him meals and cleans his apartment. “Valentina has really become part of my family,” says Georgy. Her friendship has been especially important during the global pandemic. “I’m cut off from the rest of the world,” he says. “Even my daughters and grandchildren can’t come to visit me.”

This sweet man cannot bear the thought of forgetting his grandchildren’s names, despite his dementia. So to keep them close in memory, he looks at their photos every day, counts each of his children and grandchildren, and recites their names several times. As he waits for the day he can reconnect with his family, Georgy is so grateful to you for not forgetting about him. He says even though his memory may be weak, he will always remember The Fellowship and your generosity!

Provide Hope

Learn how you can help elderly and Holocaust survivors survive in the FSU today!