Breathe Deeply

Yefim, 16
Chernivtsi, Ukraine

10-year-old Yefim remembers spending recess sitting on a bench in the playground, cold, itchy, with an aching chest and a deep desire to join the other children in their game of soccer. Yefim would watch the game unfold, feeling his body tense when someone scored a goal, he felt the thrill of the game as the deep longing to run and play became more and more persistent. It wasn’t that he wasn’t good at soccer, quite the opposite, Yefim used to be the top soccer player in his class. Recently, however, his asthma became much worse, making running and playing a painful and dangerous experience.


All of his life Yefim had suffered from eczema. He would spend the winters with cracked, itchy skin and bathing had always been excruciatingly painful. As he got older, he began wheezing and coughing and breathing became challenging while exerting himself. For a ten-year-old boy, this was a life sentence.

Now, 16-year-old Yefim smiled to himself, took a deep inhale from his inhaler and ran to play a hard game of soccer.

Yefim’s parents had not been able to afford decent medical care for him and he had to spend his childhood and early teenage years with the severe limitations inflicted upon him by his asthma. The situation grew significantly worse when his condition flared up in his early teens and he had to go to the hospital for regular treatment.

His desperate parents turned to the local Jewish community for assistance and they were referred to the LifeChanger FSU program.

LifeChanger FSU came to meet Yefim and his parents in their home. They met a family who lived simply and frugally yet with an air of pride in their home, which was a simple, one bedroom house. Yefim had patches of dry skin on his face and arms that were an angry reddish color. He was a tall, lean boy.

The representative spoke with the family and heard all about the challenges that Yefim had had to face throughout his young life. She heard about the recent flare-up in his condition and assured them that LifeChanger FSU would do whatever they could to help Yefim.

He went to several doctors and underwent many tests. It became clear that his condition had worsened due to the onset of adolescence. He was prescribed hormonal treatment, given an inhaler for his asthma and medication for his eczema.

His family began to receive food packages, making life a little easier for them and giving them a healthier and more varied diet, which was something that Yefim needed so desperately. He had undiagnosed allergies and food sensitivities that had been making his condition worse.

Yefim, his parents, doctors, and teachers began seeing gradual improvement. He responded to the treatments, medication, and diet very well.

Today Yefim still has mild eczema in the wintertime, but nothing compared to what had gone through as a young boy. He runs and plays soccer every day with his friends, bringing his handy inhaler along in his pocket. He has started swimming as well, loving the feeling of freedom and strength that he felt in the water. The regular exercise has built up his slight build and given him a strong sense of confidence and self-worth.

“I had always felt ashamed of my limitations as a young boy, I would get teased for my sore skin and wheezy breath. Now I feel strong and proud. Thank you LifeChanger FSU for improving my life so dramatically.”