Natali was nervous and hesitant to enter the camp premises. There were so many children around and they all seemed so happy. They were playing, running, laughing and chatting, these are things that Natali had never done.
Natali is six years old. She had lived with her mother until her mother was forced out of the house in handcuffs a few months prior. She was arrested for a petty crime for the fifth time, leaving little Natali once again in the care of her older brother.
Natali’s older brother has a young family of his own. As much as he loved his sister, he didn’t have the time or resources to support her. As soon as her mother was released from prison, Natali moved back home.
Her mother returned with a serious leg condition, which, compounded with having a criminal record, made working impossible. There was no disability income, there was no father sending monthly checks. With no hope for help, Natali and her mother lived in squalor, managing to get by with income from tiny side jobs that Natali’s mother managed to secure.
While her mother was out working or in bed in pain, Natali was left all alone.
Hunger was a constant companion.
Cold her only friend.
She learned to feed herself from turnip greens and vegetables from their small garden. She learned to help clean and care for the house.
What she never learned was how to make friends, play or have fun.
When LifeChanger FSU coordinator, Chaya Ruth Dromenko came to meet Natali and her mother, she brought up the idea of Natali attending the ‘Alumim’ summer camp in Zhitomir. Natali’s imagination ran wild, she pictured herself playing with children and making friends, things she had only seen other children do, and she nodded hesitantly in agreement.
Natali had the summer of her life. She quickly learned how to get along with other children, enjoyed eating delicious, wholesome meals three times daily and found herself easily picking up the hebrew songs of the prayers that they sang every day.
While Natali was at camp, the LifeChanger FSU coordinator was hard at work getting Natali the necessary paperwork so that she could be registered in the local Jewish kindergarten in the fall. She would be in kindergarten with some of her camp friends.
LifeChanger FSU knows that this is just the beginning of the help and support that Natali and her mother are going to need. They are going to need help with their financial and health challenges as well as setting Natali’s mother up in long term employment.
LifeChanger FSU needs your help to give Natali and her mother the support they need to live healthy, happy and stable lives. With your donation, Natali will be eating wholesome meals and wearing weather appropriate clothing. Her mother’s health issues will be treated and she will be counseled on how to make herself more employable.
Together, we can change their lives for the better.