Feature Stories

Helping the Neediest Jews Brave Harsh Winter

Two of the Mardakhayev boys show their makeshift sleeping arrangements
Two of the Mardakhayev boys show their makeshift sleeping arrangements

In Baku, Azerbaijan, the Mardakhayev children—ranging in age from 3 to 16—live with their parents in a tiny apartment with exposed brick walls, on the verge of collapse. Neither parent has been able to find steady work in recent years. Their home has no beds, just thin mattresses, and the youngest sleeps in a hammock made from a blanket hanging from closet doors.

Since their utilities were cut off long ago, the family has been using their furniture as kindling to build fires each winter to warm their home. Through the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ)/JDC Partnership for Children in the Former Soviet Union (FSU), they are now getting support for winter heating and clothing. The parents receive food cards for their children, and the Partnership has provided the family a hot plate for cooking.

In an equally run-down Baku neighborhood, 72-year-old Gyavar Aliyev shares her tiny apartment with her son and two teenage grandchildren. Gyavar is slowly losing her sight—and her home has no running water, so she must use an outhouse and the well located in the rat-infested courtyard that she shares with three neighbors.

Gyavar’s apartment has holes in the floor and becomes icy cold in the winter. JDC’s Hesed welfare center network supplies Gyavar with heating fuel and blankets to combat the fierce chill. She also receives a food card that enables her to purchase groceries, and is provided with medicines and basic household goods.

For these poorest of Jewish children, families, and elderly in the former Soviet Union, JDC assistance mitigates suffering and helps them survive the harsh winter season with dignity.

Tags for this story: Children, Families, Health / Medical Issues

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