Project Spotlight: Hesed Homecare Workers

The Fellowship  |  January 28, 2020

Eugenia Elfand laying on her couch while reaching for the hand of the woman next to her.

Fellowship-supported Hesed is a network of Jewish community centers and social services that provides lifesaving aid to impoverished Jews throughout the former Soviet Union. Hesed means loving kindness in Hebrew, and that’s exactly what Hesed homecare workers provide when they visit elderly shut-ins who need help with daily tasks as well as caring companionship.

This Fellowship-supported network offers a lifeline for those in need, as well as for those offering the compassionate care. Often, the love these homecare workers provide make all the difference for the elderly who they visit. Just ask Eugenia, who depends on her Hesed homecare worker, Lada. The two women have become each other’s family.

The Fellowship Becomes Family

One day, Eugenia stopped walking altogether.

This sweet 94-year-old woman just stayed put in her bed. When her Fellowship homecare worker visited her, she worried about this sudden change; just days prior, Eugenia had been walking around her apartment. Eugenia explained that she had lost feeling in her leg while sitting, and was worried that if she tried to walk, she might fall down.

This fear is understandable since elderly Eugenia grows frailer every day. She is hard of hearing, and cannot sit up, bathe herself, or even get herself something to eat. Without Fellowship-supported Hesed – our partner organization that provides food and medical care to the elderly in the former Soviet Union – Eugenia wouldn’t survive.

Her homecare worker, Lada, is the only person that Eugenia can depend on. The two women are so close that they are more like family. “I will stay with her until the end. Leaving her [for the day] is like leaving family,” says Lada, who knows how much Eugenia, a Holocaust survivor, has suffered in life.

Eugenia, an only child, was born in 1925 in a small town in Ukraine. When the Nazis invaded, her family managed to flee and evacuated to Orenburg, a town in the south of the Ural Mountains.

After the end of the war, Eugenia returned to her hometown, where she finished school and received higher education as an epidemiologist. Later, she worked as a public health inspector.

Caring for Eugenia

But life after the war was hard. Eugenia has been very lonely. She never married and has no children. She missed out on having the support of family to comfort her in her old age – that is, until The Fellowship came into her life.

Today, Lada means the world to Eugenia. Lada helps her bathe, cook, and clean the apartment. She comforts Eugenia, listens to her, and provides her with care and friendship.

Thanks to our wonderful supporters, Eugenia feels like she is part of a family, and is thankful to Fellowship friends around the world who make this care possible.

Learn how you can help elderly shut-ins and other needy populations in the former Soviet Union

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