Most of us couldn’t imagine life with no running water or no indoor plumbing. But in the former Soviet Union, especially during the brutal winter months, this is the reality for too many elderly Jews who already lived through the most horrific experiences imaginable.
Many live alone. Many rely on the kindness of neighbors. Many cannot even get out of bed. And many survive without the modern conveniences we take for granted.
One of these precious souls is Lylia. An 88-year-old Holocaust survivor living alone in a rural village in Ukraine, Lylia used to be completely independent. She grew her own food. She brought in water from her outdoor well. She chopped wood for the winter. Then one day, that all changed.
“On a snowy day four years ago, I went outside to the toilet since I don’t have running water inside,” Lylia says. “I fell and broke my leg. I couldn’t afford to go to the doctor, so my leg did not heal and since then I’ve been stuck in bed.”
For the past four years, Lylia hasn’t been able to go outside to the outhouse. A kind neighbor and her disabled niece come change her diapers, but this has left Lylia “very, very embarrassed. I am 100 percent dependent on other people. I’ve lived a decent life, but now at the end, I’m just waiting for God to take me.”
This is no way for anyone to live, especially a precious soul who already survived the Holocaust.
Before the coronavirus pandemic began, Yael visited Lylia with a food box and winter necessities. But The Fellowship’s help has continued. As Yael says, “The Fellowship found Lylia at the last minute and now we are responsible. God led us to her for a reason. If we don’t keep her alive, no one will.”
Despite Lylia’s many difficulties, love from caring Christians around the world keeps her going. But there are countless other elderly Jews – many of them Holocaust survivors – just like her who need that same love.