From Children’s Home in Uzbekistan to the Land of Promise
We got to know 20-year old Maria* about 18 months ago. She graduated from a State children’s home for children with neuropsychiatric diagnosis. Her mother rejected her in childhood and her father was schizophrenic. Maria did not have any other relatives so from a very young age she was handed over to the orphanage. When she was 14 years old a family had guardianship for her with the goal of receiving accommodation from the State.
Maria had no documents proving her Jewish roots. This meant the first thing we had to do was find her father and her brother. Neither of them is completely healthy. With great difficulty we managed to find out the necessary information from them. Both father and brother wanted to see Maria. Maria did not want to see them – she was afraid. And her fear was justified. At the meeting with them they started to threaten her, and they wanted her to marry some acquaintance of theirs. Maria had to hide, change her phone number and stop contact with them.
We took Maria under our wings – after her graduation from the home and from under the guardianship, she had to find accommodation and work. She didn’t have any normal clothes and did not have good nutrition. One time I took her to eat something and asked what she wanted. She asked for shashlik as she had not eaten meat for a long time. And she thoroughly enjoyed it!!
Ezra helped Maria rent accommodation, paying for transport and food. It was difficult for this young woman, without any experience, to find work.
From the very beginning we started to prepare her for Israel. We helped her go on the Taglit programme (a tourist programme for young Jews to see the country); we paid for her to go to Jewish camps, seminars. We restored all her documents and the Consul gave the ‘okay’.
As Maria also had no-one in Israel and little life experience, she is very trusting and direct we decided to try and make her absorption into life in Israel as smooth as possible. The Jewish Agency found a suitable curriculum for her on an education programme, after which she would have the status of a new immigrant.
We took Maria shopping – to buy clothes, a suitcase, a ticket. We gave her some money for her first days in Israel and in February this year Maria made aliyah starting a new life in the Land of Promise.