Mariupol, East Ukraine
Her eyes had a wild look, like a deer in headlights. She looked around as if looking for a way to escape. When anyone came too close, she would lash out with a kick or a punch. She had arrived at the Alumim Children’s Home in Zhitomir a few days before and had not yet let her guard down.
For a girl with her background, it was totally understandable.
As the middle child in an unstable home, she was severely neglected and sometimes abused. Her older brother had gone to live with her grandmother and her younger sister was showered with attention by her mother.
Nadya would watch her mother smother her sister with love and affection, kisses and praises, while she would barely toss a glance in Nadya’s direction. Nadya became insulur and sulky, seeing herself through her mother’s eyes; unloveable. She would gorge herself on any food she could get her hands on, soothing her aching heart with the comforting feeling of eating. Because of this, she became severely overweight, making her mother despise her even more and tease her incessantly about her weight.
Eventually her mother shipped her off to live with her grandmother in Mariupol as well. This was just as the war broke out, turning Mariupol into a war torn battleground. Life became unbearable, there was no shelter to be had from the constant bombings, the streets turned into piles of rubble and rubbish. There was no running water or gas for heating and cooking. The grandmother did not have the resources to care for two children, and they were constantly cold and hungry.
It was at this point that the local Jewish community turned to LifeChanger FSU, who recommended that Nadya be welcomed into the Alumim Children’s Home.
It took the caregivers and therapists a long time to break through the many defensive layers that Nadya had erected around her heart. She went from fearful and aggressive to insular and depressed. Finally there was a breakthrough, Nadya shed many tears as she told her story of neglect and misery. “This place is too good to be true,” she whispered, “I am so afraid that you will send me back.”
The gentle love and support finally began to have its desired effect, Nadya started smiling and playing with other children. She also immersed herself in her studies, proving to be a very bright child with a sharp mind and quick wit. Through fresh air, regular play, exercise and a wholesome diet, Nadya began to lose weight and her self-confidence grew.
Recently, Nadya turned 12 and celebrated her Bat Mitzvah amongst friends that had become family. Then she joined a trip to Israel, which was the most magnificent experience of her life.
“I am so happy,” she gushed, “thank you for giving me this wonderful time.”
Thanks to LifeChanger FSU and the Alumim Children’s Home, Nadya will grow up in a loving and wholesome environment, giving her a great chance a wholesome and happy life.