The Struggle to See

Inessa sat in class and frowned at the blackboard. The teacher, who had noticed a problem, had moved Inessa to the front of the class, but the little girl still couldn’t decipher the letters on the board. The teacher sent another letter home, but knew that it would not make a difference.

It wasn’t like Inessa’s mother didn’t care, it was just that she couldn’t do anything about it.

It broke the mother’s heart to watch her precious five year old squint and struggle to see. “I know that there must be some medical solution to her problem, but I don’t have the money to pay for medical care, we barely have enough to pay for food and heating,” said Inessa’s mother sadly.

Inessa and her two older sisters live with their mother in a side room of a friend’s house. They share this tiny, cold space and must trek outside to the outhouse to use the toilet. They keep a toilet bucket in their room for use during the cold winter nights. They have no running water, and struggle to get water out of the well that nearly freezes in the winter. Because of the lack of water, they don’t bathe regularly throughout the winter, nor do they wash their clothing, therefore, the room stinks horribly and the children at school avoid them because of their ripe body odor.

The teacher finally decided to intervene and she contacted LifeChanger FSU through the local Jewish community of Mariupol, Eastern Ukraine. The LifeChanger FSU coordinator visited them later that same week.

“I was so embarrassed to open the door for the coordinator,” said Inessa’s mother, “I could read the horror and pity all over her face.” Soon after, LifeChanger FSU helped the family relocate to a small, yet much more comfortable, apartment of their own. Inessa’s mother entered counseling to help her take better care of her daughters and find a job. The three girls were given clothing coupons and food parcels.

Inessa was examined by an optometrist who said that she must have eye surgery to save her deteriorating eyesight. Inessa’s mother held her daughter’s hand as she was wheeled into surgery, “I am so grateful to LifeChanger FSU for giving us a new lease on life,” she said, “I am determined to make positive changes to improve our lives now that I know that we have the support that we so desperately needed.”