What I saw on my trip was astounding — we brought aid to so many and could see the results of our help over the years. Some were doing well as a result, much improved. Especially if they had at least one family member. For those who are alone the situation was bleak — the poverty is unimaginable. They are far worse off than I dreamed. Alone and forgotten, in small huts that are falling apart (literally), with no other aid given. We were greeted with every kindness and they insisted we share their meager foodstuffs. …We felt like the cavalry in an old western. It was an honor to be the messenger of so much generosity and goodwill.
This is an excerpt from a recent email from Zane Buzby, a Hollywood comedy director whose resume includes such TV hits as Golden Girls and Blossom. It was Zane’s search for her family’s roots in Eastern Europe that changed her life forever. Upon arriving in Lithuania, she witnessed the extreme poverty experienced by (some of) the thousands of remaining Holocaust survivors who live their last days without sufficient food, medical attention or other basic needs. How was it possible that these people who had experienced such pain and torment in their younger years were now left forgotten by most of the world?
This question stayed with Zane long after she returned to the comfort of her home here in America. The faces and the stories of the elders she visited would not go away and she soon knew she had to do something. With the help of her dear friend Chic Wolk who agreed to provide the necessary funds, and Professor Dovid Katz of Vilnius University who first introduced her to some of the survivors, Zane began The Survivor Mitzvah Project in 2004. The program’s goals are simple – distribute modest sums of money directly to these survivors so that their lives might be just a bit easier.
When we spoke with Zane right before her December, 2009 trip to the region, we could not miss the excitement and the passion in her voice as she described the many individuals she has met in her previous trips. We could also hear her frustration knowing that she could not possibly provide for every one of these survivors. The Good People Fund committed funds for Zane to deliver to those she would meet on this trip.
The report Zane sent us recently included the first paragraph of this diary entry as well as some beautiful and poignant pictures of the elders she met. We suggest you visit http://survivormitzvah.org to learn more. This is a meaningful program that surely does save lives.