Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Home visit to JFS/ Children's Initiative Family

Family members:
Son: Bogdan (2001) aged 11
Daughter: Ruslana (2008) aged 4
Mother: Marina, aged 34
Grandmother: Yevdokiya

Family situation: Marina is a single mother raising two children: 11-year old Bogdan and 4-year old Ruslana. Bogdan has poor health and suffers from very serious chronic diseases, including asthenoneurotic syndrome and epilepsy. Despite his health problems, the boy loves football and is a very enthusiastic soccer player. Having to look after a sick son and little younger daughter, Marina had to stay home unemployed. For all this time the family survived from the grandmother’s modest pension. Only recently Marina found a job and started to receive minimal but at least regular income.

Living situation: the family shares an old private house with remote relatives, with whom the relationship is very tense, and there is almost no communication. The accommodation is very poor, lacking basic conveniences.

Family monthly income: the family survives on the $112 salary of the mother and the $114 grandmother’s pension.

Help received from JDC:
  • Monthly assistance from the Food Card program
  • Winter relief (bed linen set and blanket)
  • Baby carriage
  • Clothing and school supplies for Bogdan
  • Medicines as needed
Inna is the case worker. They live deep in the south on the right bank. Inna has 100 cases, different frequencies of visits. With this family she meets once a month and speaks once a week on the phone. The family is “needy” but not the worst case.

The main challenge of the case worker is money, especially when the family needs funds for medical care or treatment and we don’t have enough to spare. The connection with the family started because Yevdokiya is a Hesed client, the case worker told the family when Bogdan was born about options through JFS, and also told JFS.

Inna has been working for 9 years with Hesed; her family became JFS clients, and she then became a volunteer, helping other families in the “Home Management Support” program. Then she was invited to become a professional in JFS because they love working with her and she loves the job. When she was in Hesed she did the social work course (distance learning in Dnepropetrovsk) from Solomon University in Kiev.

Marina took part in the JCC program “Mothers for a Better Future” in the computer class and home economics/basic work entry skills class. She got moral support, learned how to write a resume, be interviewed. Now she works in a convenience store. It gave her a lot of confidence.

The entire area is dirty, abandoned, neglected. We got lost because Inna normally gets public transport here and there aren’t good maps here, there are unrecognized/unofficial roads, etc. There's a residential quarter (neighborhood) in Zaporozhe that isn’t officially recognized … because it was officially torn down in the 50s!
Bogdan still has problems. Sweet kid, friendly. Inna is vital, says Marina. She helps. When I don’t know what to do she's there. I can call her. When Ruslana was in hospital, Inna helped, mediated, helped bring medicines that they didn’t have in the hospital. Inna has organized volunteers to stay with the children because Marina sometimes works a night shift or a 24-hour shift. She's built a good relationship with her boss, so if one of the kids is sick they are flexible. She works hard. The pay is low but the conditions are good.

Yevdokiya is sick.

They live far away from the JCC. The kids can't go to the summer camp because of their health problems. They come to JCC activities and programs, though this is difficult. Need to pay for transportation. There’s no bus from here – you pay for the private mashrutkas, cost twice as much, about $1.50 per person.

Bogdan is in fifth grade, loves soccer, especially France. Has a wide smile. Sometimes goes to JCC, last time I was there there was a show and a trip and we saw art.

Everything smells terrible in the house. Marina doesn’t have front teeth. Bogdan helps me go shopping, he carries the bags. He’s a good boy, he’s strong. "I don’t think there are other Jews in the neighborhood. There are some who are anti-Semitic and can say something about us getting help, I don’t care. But my mother doesn’t like that."

It takes Marina two mashrutkas to get to work, 3 UAH each trip, total of 12UAH.

JFS will bring a repair program to the house before summer 2013. The priority is to install a shower (they wash themselves in a sink/bowl). They have an outhouse, shared with the upstairs neighbors. 

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