Breaking the Cycle of Poverty, Disability

Dima Berestetsky, 16
Nikolayev, Ukraine

Both almost completely deaf from birth, Dima and his mother grappled with disability and extreme poverty, living in abysmal conditions in the city of Nikolayev.  Having been abandoned by Dima’s non-Jewish father shortly after Dima’s birth, mother and son were left without a breadwinner.  While Dima’s mother showed true artistic talent, her attempts to sell beautiful dolls that she fashioned out of clay fell flat, and the two struggled to make their minimal government disability assistance cover their most basic necessities.

Due to their severe financial constraints, Dima’s mother went without a hearing aid entirely, and Dima had no choice but to use the hearing aid that was purchased for him as a child well into his teenage years.  Though Dima’s device was extremely outdated and no longer fit his ear properly, forcing him to move it from ear to ear in order to engage in simple conversations, the family had no alternative.  Dima simply resigned himself to the fact that he would miss out on much of what was being said.

Dima’s disability made socializing incredibly challenging, and he had a hard time making friends.  While many children shunned him and kept their distance, others saw Dima as the perfect outlet for their aggression, bullying him mercilessly.

After assessing the unique needs of the Berestetsky family, LifeChanger FSU first focused on solidifying a source of income for the family.  A stand was secured for Dima’s mother at a sculpting fair in Kiev, and she successfully sold many of her clay dolls, launching her promising new career.  Now on the path to financial security, Dima’s mother is finally able to afford new hearing aids for herself.

After purchasing a new set of hearing aids for Dima as well, LifeChanger FSU arranged regular strength training sessions for Dima with a private coach at the local gym, allowing him to sculpt his body and build his self-confidence.  Dima is no longer a victim of bullying and has become part of a strong social circle.

Additionally, LifeChanger FSU is helping Dima plan for the future, enrolling him in computer classes that will provide him with the skills he needs to earn a living without the need for constant verbal communication, a skill he still finds challenging.

For the first time ever, Dima and his mother don’t feel restricted by their disability, have personal interests that they are passionate about, and are genuinely excited for every new day.