Mending Hearts, Repairing Lives

Ilarion Rayevski, 7

Mariupol, East Ukraine

Seven year-old Ilarion Rayevski lives with his mother, stepfather, and toddler half-sister in the city of Mariupol in Eastern Ukraine.  For years, Ilarion’s mother, Vika, harbored ill will towards her first husband, Ilarion’s father, and took out her frustrations on her son, keeping him at arm’s length while lavishing her daughter with affection.

Feeling unwanted and alone, Ilarion began to act out, constantly disobeying his elders, refusing to play with other children, and responding to even the slightest affront with violence.  Instead of disciplining Ilarion or seeking help from professionals, Vika placed the blame for his misconduct and aggressiveness squarely on his shoulders, calling Ilarion names and making him believe that he was a bad and problematic child.  Vika’s spitefulness and indifference amplified Ilarion’s antagonistic behavior, transforming him into a full-blown terror and turning his mother’s hurtful words into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

When LifeChanger FSU caught wind of the explosive situation at the Rayevski residence, Olga, the LifeChanger FSU coordinator in Mariupol, immediately began working with Vika on regaining her positive maternal feelings towards Ilarion.  Olga helped Vika identify activities that would allow her to bond and reconnect with her son, and encouraged her make Ilarion feel like an important member of the family, rather than an unfortunate reminder of her ugly past.

At the same time, Ilarion underwent a full physical and psychological assessment, which revealed a potentially fatal congenital heart defect.  The news came as a crushing blow to Vika, who had become wholly committed to healing her family but was simply unable to afford the expensive procedure required to save Ilarion’s life. LifeChanger FSU sprang into action, joining forces with several local initiatives to raise the funds needed for Ilarion’s surgery and continuing medical treatment. Following the successful fundraising campaign, Ilarion’s life-saving surgery went off without a hitch at one of the best hospitals in Kiev.

After mending his heart, LifeChanger FSU began helping Ilarion put his life back together.  He received a new backpack, clothing and school books, and sees a psychologist regularly to work on building his self-confidence. Ilarion has responded by making better behavioral choices and taking his education seriously.

LifeChanger FSU also helped reintroduce Vika into the workforce after two years of maternity leave, allowing the Rayevski family to take the first steps towards financial stability.  Though they still have a long road ahead of them, the Rayevski’s finally sees themselves as a single family unit, and Ilarion’s life has improved dramatically.  With LifeChanger FSU’s continued assistance, this broken family is sure to heal in time.