September 11, 2008
Growing Old in St. Petersburg
Though Igor Feldblyum moved to the United States from the Former Soviet Union many years ago, he never forgot his roots or the many elderly people living in extraordinary poverty in this city. How could he help them despite the distance that separated him from his ancestry?
Am Echad, the small non-profit started by Igor several years ago was his way of trying to help lonely and often sick elders for whom a small monthly stipend would make a difference. With the help of contacts living in the city, elders are identified and modest sums of money are delivered regularly. For all of them, this small additional income, combined with the fact that there is someone who cares about them, makes life a bit easier.
In addition to the monthly allotments, Igor is often contacted when there is an emergency need (usually medical). When we were in touch with Igor this week he shared the story of L.G., a woman who was one of his first recipients. L.G. has limited mobility due to ongoing medical problems and lives in severe pain nearly all of the time. With the help of a translator, L.G. was able to write to Igor and explain her needs:
At the advice of …, I am writing to you directly.
Unfortunately, my health is not improving as the years go by. This is what should be expected, of course. I am ashamed to trouble you, but the current situation does not leave me with any choice. Once again, – for a long while already, – my health is "tumbling down". The only treatment that I can afford, my last hope, is intense massage. However, its cost has gone up, like everything else here, and I cannot afford it with my income. It would be a stroke of luck to find a masseuse who would agree to work with me for 500-600 rubles per session [translator’s note: about $25]. My doctor, thanks to whom I can still function, insists on 15-20 sessions with a masseuse. I would be sincerely appreciative if Am Echad could cover even a partial amount.
I hope that all is well with you. I would be very happy if I could be of any help to Am Echad [translator’s note: In the past, L. G. did volunteer work for Am Echad, gathering preliminary information about potential Am Echad recipients over the phone.]
I wish you all the best. Thank you very much for everything. Without your support, my life would be incomparably more difficult, both physically and morally.
We can’t imagine a better investment of $500 to help L.G regain some relief from the constant pain she lives with and have forwarded a check to Igor to assure her this treatment.
Igor’s efforts prove that small sums of money can change people’s lives for the better and that distance does not necessarily make that impossible. We are proud to be part of this very special work.