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Three years ago, my friend Eva, who lives in Charlotte with her husband and their two young children, Naomi and Yoav, found out that her mother, still living in Yekaterinburg, Russia, went missing. A month later her body was found in the nearby woods. Those who murdered her were found and prosecuted, but that didn't change the desperate situation that was left behind. Eva's father, Ilya, has suffered 3 strokes. Eva's brother, David, has cerebral palsy and epilepsy. Neither physical therapy nor special education classes were available in Yekaterinburg, so David is confined to a wheelchair.
With the help of Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency (CRRA), Eva's father and brother were given refugee status by the US government, as her mother's murder was classified as a hate crime on the basis of their Jewish religion. On April 17th of this year, they were reunited with Eva and her family in Charlotte. Unfortunately, their challenges are far from being over.
While CRRA has been able to gather some furniture for them, Ilya and David still lack many essential things. Most importantly, their financial situation is desperate. Refugee cash assistance program (which will be provided for the first 8 months only) and food stamps total $720 a month. Their very basic monthly expenses – rent, utilities, and food - total $1335. Eva and her husband are in no position to support them financially. No other Charlotte organization is providing financial assistance.
Ilya and David’s situation will improve next year, when Ilya turns 65 and will be eligible for SSI. Until that time, they cannot even cover their bare cost of living expenses.
We have set up a fund to help Ilya and David. All donations to the fund will provide them with critical assistance. Every dollar will help, and every donation is a significant step to helping Ilya and David rebuild their lives.
Having come to the United States as a refugee 25 years ago, I am eternally grateful to the Jewish community of Stamford, Connecticut, that helped me and my family settle in. I am confident that Charlotte’s Jewish community can come together and help Eva’s father and brother, as they have done with so many refugees in years past.
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