The Humanitarian Programs of Chamah in Moscow and Moscow State
Touching the Hearts By Distributing
700,000 HOT NUTRITIOUS MEALS
50,000 FOOD PACKAGES
and providing other vital services
In 36 CITIES
1,000 WORKERS AND VOLUNTEERS
The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 created many economic problems and resulted in mass impoverishment and destitution. Unfortunately, this critical situation has hardly been alleviated for over a decade, and continues on to this very day. Among the most vulnerable social groups is the elderly, who are too weak to leave their homes even for the most essential necessities. In most cases, they only leave to go the hospital for medical care. There are thousands of people sustaining themselves with paltry and meager pensions which are barely enough for them to buy their daily bread. They go to bed hungry. They are literally crying out in voices that cannot be heard. How can we deny them the assistance and care they so desperately need?
Chamah is their only hope. With the help of the JDC, Russian Jewish Congress, public foundations and benevolent sponsors local and from abroad and in, Chamah provides relief and support to tens of thousands of beneficiaries through a variety of humanitarian programs.
Life for the elderly and destitute in Russia is not easy. Foremost among the difficulties they encounter on a regular daily basis pertain to the seemingly simple task of “eating”. Many people have gone for weeks without a hot and nutritious meal. Some have even succumbed to starvation. They have no means with which to purchase the most basic food staples and many are physically unable to prepare their meals.
Chamah delivers hot nutritious meals to their homes. A special staff selects the menu, paying careful attention to those recipients who suffer from diabetes and other ailments that have dietary restrictions. Each year, hundreds of thousands of hot nutritious meals are delivered from the Chamah Soup Kitchens through its Meals-on-Wheels Program by volunteers on many routes covering Moscow and Moscow State.
Grocery Delivery Service
In spite of the physical and emotional limitations endured by many of them, elderly people, by-and-large, want to sense a feeling of actual independence in their day-to-day lives. This helps them to maintain a genuine state of better health and provides them with greater strength and peace of mind. They want to cook for themselves, but they lack the money to buy food. Furthermore, their physical limitations prevent them from going out to the supermarket whenever they wish.
Chamah provides home delivery of a large variety of foodstuffs according to the needs of the helpless elderly. In addition, prior to the Jewish holidays, Chamah distributes tens of thousands of gift packages containing a variety of festive delicacies and other “extras”. Matzot, wine and holiday necessities are distributed prior to Passover.
Home Personal Care
Another major problem faced regularly by Moscow’s elderly is the constant need for proper health care. Many of these people suffer from severe medical problems that leave them incapable of caring for themselves. They are in urgent need of personalized care.
Each beneficiary undergoes a thorough and detailed evaluation in order to ascertain the person’s state of physical and mental health in the most accurate manner possible. Chamah’s workers and volunteers attend to their personal hygiene, deliver and feed them hot meals, clean their apartments, visit them, and even read to them. They are given the type of personal and loving attention that they so seriously lack. This gives them a great moral boost. When hospitalization is necessary, the volunteers of Chamah attend to their needs. They help these elderly people with rehabilitation after a stroke, heart attack, or any other debilitating medical crisis.
Medical Care For The Homebound
Chamah offers a unique program especially designed to provide each beneficiary with the specific medical services he or she requires. Doctors and nurses pay visits to the home, and free medications are provided. Medical rehabilitative equipment, such as wheelchairs and crutches, is available for loan. Chamah’s workers provide follow-up services regarding the senior’s rehabilitation. Disposable diapers for adults and disposable sheets are distributed to those in need. The beneficiaries receive eye examinations and are given eyeglasses when needed. A special vehicle, the “Medivac”, is available for the transportation of homebound seniors.
Home and Appliance Repair Services for the Elderly
Many of the elderly people live in decrepit conditions. They live in homes with leaky roofs and windows that do not open or close properly, thus leaving. them exposed to extreme weather conditions. From time to time necessary amenities such as electricity, plumbing, old furniture are in need of repair. For anyone to spend virtually every waking hour of the day surrounded by such a poor and broken-down living environment, would cause considerable harm to their mental state. These unfortunate people just resign themselves to a horrible life of destitution and deprivation.
Chamah is there to make a difference! Its volunteers provide basic home repair services for thousands of elderly people. They have fixed countless items in need of repair and have even painted the apartments of the elderly.
The poverty level in Russia is so low that people cannot even afford the basic necessities. How then can they possibly pay when an emergency arises? They, of course, turn to the Chamah Emergency Hotline.
Chamah arranges emergency funding for special needs such as expensive medications, relief after a fire, and when medical equipment must be purchased for children, adults or the elderly. War refugees receive help as well. In addition, Chamah provides winter relief to needy families for the harsh winter by delivering shoes, warm clothing, sweaters, coats and radiators. Thousands benefit from this program.
Studies have shown that a cheery disposition does wonders for a person’s state of physical well-being. As a result, it is of great importance to give people a sense of purpose and accomplishment in their lives. They are looking for a source of happiness and fulfillment to provide them with a feeling that even at their advanced stage in life, they can achieve things for their surroundings and their community.
With this in mind, aside from providing programs that sustain them physically, Chamah recognizes the need for spiritual food. It provides intellectually enriching programs on Jewish heritage and tradition, with a special emphasis on its practical application to their lives, including Shabbos programs and festive celebrations for each holiday on the Jewish calendar. Many of these elderly and needy people were top professionals, who had the opportunity to participate in cultural events, but now their physical limitations and lack of money have turned this desire into only a dream.
Chamah is there to make this dream a reality. Visits to museums, theaters, concerts and lectures are arranged for them throughout the Moscow region. In addition, Chamah promotes the socializing of the elderly by establishing a variety of clubs. In many cases, matches have been made and lonely seniors have found a partner with whom to share their lives - even at their age. A mobile library service has been established as well to provide thousands of elderly homebound people with access to a vast supply of enjoyable and educational reading material. All these activities in no small way contribute to the mental well-being of the elderly.