Project Spotlight: Help for War-Weary Ukrainians

The Fellowship  |  August 16, 2016

Alika, young IFCJ recipient standing in front of an IFCJ branded sign with her food box contents.
Project Spotlight: Help for War-Weary Ukrainians

The Fellowship has been providing for people in need throughout the former Soviet Union, including Ukraine, for decades. But when the fighting began in Ukraine a few years ago, we stepped up our relief efforts, ensuring that these war-weary Ukrainian residents, many who have been displaced by the fighting, have their basic human needs met.

Alika and her family are just one example of why this assistance is so important.

Young Girl Recovers from a Family Crisis

Alika spent the first seven years of her life living with her parents in a one-room apartment that the whole family shared. When Alika was 5 years old, her older brother was hit by a car and killed instantly. Alika had lost her best friend, her mother lost her precious son, and her father stopped smiling.

Stephan, Alika’s father, began to drink heavily and spent most of his time intoxicated. He missed work so many times that he lost his job. One morning, Alika grabbed a stale roll and a bruised apple and left the apartment to go to school. As she left, though, she saw her father lying dead. He had decided to take his own life because the pain of losing a son was too much to cope with.

Life got very hard for Alika after her father died. Buzia, Alika’s mother, dropped Alika off at her grandmother Mussia’s house and left her there in order to go out and find a job. Not long after she settled into life with her grandmother, war broke out in her hometown of Lugansk, Ukraine. It was far too dangerous to stay, so they fled the city as refugees bound for Kiev. They managed to survive for the duration of the major fighting and then returned home to Luhansk when things calmed down.

“Go see if you can buy some of the fruits left over in the market today, Alika. If the fruits are bruised or moldy, they sell them cheap. Maybe we can afford a few,” Mussia frequently says to Alika when they don’t have anything to eat. Alika, who always had a weak immune system, has been getting sick frequently and gets dizzy every time she stands up too fast because of malnutrition.

Before The Fellowship intervened to help the struggling family, the two of them lived off Mussia’s pension, which is barely enough to pay for rent, let alone for nutritious food and decent clothing. Buzia, Alika’s mother, is still searching for a job and cannot support herself or her daughter.

“What have I done that makes God punish me so much?” cried Alika to the Fellowship volunteer who came to meet her at her grandmother’s house.

Tanya, the volunteer, was appalled to see the sickly looking child in front of her. “When I came into the house, I was certain that Alika could be no more than 7 years old. She looked so thin.”

Tanya first made sure Alika had food and clothing and scheduled her a long overdue doctor appointment. “In order to begin helping the poor child, we first needed to take care of her poor health. After that we could begin to help her emotionally as well,” says Tanya. “When I met Alika, I sent a prayer of gratitude up to God for sending The Fellowship to Alika and others like her. I knew that we could help her heal, step by step.”

Today, Alika still lives with her grandmother, but has plenty of nourishing food and warm clothing. She sees a therapist, who gives her the tools to move on and feel healthy and happy again. Alika has begun to smile and has even made a friend, Sasha, in her 4th grade class.

“When I heard about her father’s passing, I believed that Alika would never recover, I didn’t know how to help her,” said Mussia. “But now there is a new bounce in her step, and a glimmer of hope in her spirit. I am forever grateful for the kindness and generosity shown to my precious granddaughter by The Fellowship.”