Maria doesn’t remember much about the Holocaust – fortunately she was too young during the war to remember the horrors her family suffered during the Holocaust. But the post-war years in communist Ukraine proved nearly as horrific. She remembers the famine after the war, with little to eat around the Soviet Union.
She remembers eating frozen potatoes, dug from the snow with frostbitten fingers.
She remembers eating single grains of wheat that fell from the sacks of passersby.
She even remembers eating pieces of straw – straw used for animal bedding – because she and her sister were so hungry.
And she remembers when people would steal food from her mother, who would weep, worried her daughters would starve.
Maria didn’t starve. But her life never became easier. Still in the same rural village in Ukraine, this 81-year-old Jewish woman not only remembers the constant pains of hunger from childhood – she’s still hungry today.
During the summer, Maria grows carrots and potatoes, hoping they will last the winter. When they don’t, she must forage through the woods, looking for anything edible that might keep her alive.
And during the summer, Maria chops her own wood – this frail Holocaust survivor – hoping it will last the winter. If her firewood doesn’t last… “That’s it,” Maria says. She would die.
But Maria is alive, with food to eat and heat for her small home. And that is thanks to Fellowship friends who have made sure that for once in her life, she knows something other than cold and hunger. Maria knows she is loved.