The Only One Alive

The Fellowship  |  February 23, 2022

Raisa, only member of her Jewish family still alive in Ukrainian village
(Photo: IFCJ)

“I miss my parents very much. I miss my family. We were always poor, but we were happy. I am one of seven siblings and the only one alive.”

That’s what Raisa told Fellowship volunteers when they stopped by her tiny shack in the same Ukrainian village where she was born 90 years ago…

The same Ukrainian village where her Jewish family lived…

The same Ukrainian village the Nazis invaded during World War II…

The Nazis stormed the village, gathering any Jewish families and shooting them.

Raisa’s father had already been conscripted into the Red Army and sent to the front, leaving his wife behind with their seven children. Raisa’s mother bundled the children into a trench, where the eight of them huddled in terror, tightly packed into the small space.

When the shooting stopped, Raisa climbed out of the trench. There stood a young Nazi soldier…

Raisa screamed. The Nazi put his finger to his lips, for her to be quiet. Raisa was sure he would turn them in. But the soldier returned with a pillow and a blanket. Once more, he placed his finger to his lips. Then the Nazi left. Raisa never forgot that soldier and his unexpected kindness.

And now, all these decades later Raisa lives in that same village, all alone. Ninety years old, she has no teeth and can barely walk. She can hardly afford to eat, much less see a doctor.

“It is difficult to get out of bed,” she tells Fellowship volunteers, “so I stay in bed the whole day and I’m hungry. If one of the neighbors comes, they give me some water or a loaf of bread. But if no one comes at all, then I don’t eat.

This is Raisa’s lonely, hungry life, day after day. And especially during the brutal Ukrainian winter, it’s her cold reality, day after day.

But now Fellowship volunteers regularly visit Raisa with food boxes and winter supplies, bringing warmth and nourishment and kindness to her life, and reminding the only child left alive from this Jewish family that there are Christian friends around the world who love her.

Your kindness will literally save the life of an elderly Holocaust survivor in the former Soviet Union, someone like Raisa.