Project Spotlight: Helping the Young and Old through Isaiah 58

The Fellowship  |  April 9, 2019

Lyudmila Madorskaya, IFCJ recipient looking off into the distance.

By partnering with various organizations on the ground in the former Soviet Union, The Fellowship is able to help tens of thousands of needy Jews, including children, impoverished families, the disabled, and the elderly who are desperately trying to make ends meet on little to no income. In order to survive, they receive assistance such as food and medicine as well as homecare visits and therapy, made possible by The Fellowship’s friends and supporters.

Turning to The Fellowship

Lyudmila has lived in the same apartment for most of her 72 years. When she was a child, several families shared the four-room flat. Now Lyudmila, who is widowed, lives there with just her grown son. She has made a lifetime of memories in this apartment. Among them are memories of the years her family survived there during World War II and the 900-day Siege of Leningrad (1941-1944).

“My family was starving and dying here, in this room,” Lyudmila recalls. “We never evacuated.”

For many years, Lyudmila was the primary caregiver for her parents. Today, she cares for her son, after recently returning home to find him collapsed on the floor from heat exhaustion. Old buildings, like the one Lyudmila lives in, do not have air conditioning, and many residents suffer from the extreme heat of the summer.

“An ambulance came and took him to a hospital. I accompanied him. He was thrown in a corridor, and for the next six hours nobody came to check on him,” Lyudmila explains. “I took my son back home in a taxi, called an ambulance again, and asked that they take us to another hospital where he finally got care.”

A fabric designer by profession, Lyudmila worked at a textile factory for many years, creating bold and vivid patterns for scarves. She was well-known for her unique designs and participated in numerous industrial exhibitions. However, after her husband passed away, Lyudmila couldn’t make ends meet, so she traveled to the United States to work as a housekeeper. The differences in language and culture, combined with the physical challenges of her work and mourning for her husband, caused Lyudmila to fall into a deep depression. Less than a year after moving to the U.S., Lyudmila returned to Russia and, fighting her depression, forced herself to return to her art. She continues to paint, and sometimes sells her paintings.

Several years ago, Lyudmila had saved enough to pay for renovations to the apartment, but, shortly after the renovations were complete, a pipe burst in her neighbor’s apartment, flooding Lyudmila’s home and causing much damage. This added stress was not good for Lyudmila’s health, as she suffers from heart, circulatory, and thyroid diseases. The Fellowship’s help over the years has been critical. We provide her with a food card she uses to buy the food she cannot afford on her meager pension.

“Without The Fellowship, I would be so much worse off,” Lyudmila says. Thankfully, she knows she can rely on us during her most difficult times.

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