Fourteen-year-old Marianna Tikich loves to perform at community celebrations and practice music at her local JCC. It’s a bright spot amid a difficult life in Mariupol, a city of about 500,000 people in southeastern Ukraine, where political and economic crises have hit hard. Many Jews in Mariupol rely on Jewish Federation-supported programs to make ends meet.
Recently, the unthinkable happened: happy, healthy Marianna had a stroke. A final cause has not been fully determined, and more costly tests are required.
Paying for Marianna’s growing medical expenses would normally be a stretch for the Tikich family, which lives on about $260 a month. But with father Leonid furloughed from his job at the airport, it’s now nearly impossible.
Fortunately, the local Jewish Family Service (JFS) has continued its regular operations throughout the crisis. Thanks to JFS, supported by Jewish Federation partner agency, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), Marianna is getting the medicine and heart and brain ultrasounds she desperately needs. Her family has also received critical winter supplies and a food card to use at the local supermarket.
JFS was able to respond so swiftly because JDC operates year-round throughout Ukraine and the former Soviet Union. Through its network of Hesed welfare and community centers, Jews in need receive food, medication, and a warm place to socialize with each other. When the current situation in Ukraine intensified, JDC activated its emergency response network and sent caregivers to clients' homes to provide these services.
JDC also supports the revitalization of Jewish life and community infrastructure while helping develop new communal leaders. And with their continued help, Marianna will be among the brightest of the next generation.