Elena Demchenko, 28
Arsnei Demchenko, 6
Yegor Demchenko, 5
In 2016, living with his mother and older brother in the city of Kherson, three-year-old Yegor Demchenko never smiled. Yegor's parents have divorced, and the young mother was left to care for her sons on her own.
The small monthly stipend the family received from the government was not enough to make ends meet. Though she tried to maintain a positive outlook, Elena found that the family’s medical, social, psychological problems became overwhelming, magnified by the direness of their financial situation.
Yegor was hampered by developmental issues, specifically a rare genetic disorder that precluded him from growing teeth. The condition made it difficult for him to eat, resulting in a severe nutritional deficiency, and others could not understand him when he spoke, making basic communication a chore and socialization with other children his age virtually impossible. Obviously, smiling was out of the question.
When the government cut the family’s funding entirely, Elena turned to the Jewish community in Kherson for help. The community welcomed them and connected the family with LifeChanger FSU.
Taking a holistic approach, the local LifeChanger FSU coordinator arranged psychological and emotional treatment for all family members, while simultaneously raising money for an appropriately-sized set of dentures for Yegor.
LifeChanger FSU was able to secure the funds needed in record time. With his bright new smile, Igor's self-confidence soared, and he began seeking out friends his own age. His new teeth also allowed him to eat without pain or embarrassment, and he began gaining weight immediately. Soon thereafter, Yegor was given a clean bill of health.
In the meantime, Yegor's brother Arsnei dealt with his own behavioral issues thanks to the help of LifeChanger FSU psychologists and education specialists, while Elena was able to get back to work. She also began volunteering at the local Jewish community, making new connections, and breaking the cycle of solitude that enclosed her since the divorce.
In February 2018 the family, after much preparations and support, relocated to Israel, where they hope to get a fresh start at a bright future. With the support of LifeChanger FSU, the Demchenko family has so many reasons to smile.