Katia Ivanova, 11
Katia Ivanova of Lugansk, Ukraine, was born into a family of well-respected Jewish intellectuals. While Katia’s parents put on a brave face for the benefit of their daughter, the pressures of life began to wear them down, and they turned to drugs for relief. Within a few years, Katia’s parents became full blown addicts, and their health deteriorated rapidly. Eventually, their drug dependency took over and then claimed their lives – they both overdosed and died, leaving Katia frightened and alone.
Following her parents’ deaths, Katia went to live with her grandmother in a tiny two-bedroom apartment that was situated right in the middle of the region’s armed conflict. Already traumatized from the loss of her parents, Katia began to show symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). To make matters worse, the apartment was hit by a missile, causing severe damage to the apartment and rendering it uninhabitable. While Katia and her grandmother escaped unscathed, her grandmother did not have the financial means to repair the damage, so they were left with nowhere to live.
Katia and her grandmother wandered from place to place, finding shelter wherever they could. To survive, Katia’s grandmother tended a small plot of land that she owned outside of the city, growing vegetables that she would store for the winter months. For their daily needs, the pair relied on the meager pension that Katia’s grandmother received from the state.
Throughout her ordeal, Katia’s only real solace came from playing the violin. When she was very young, her parents had gifted her a small violin, and her innate musical talent helped her win numerous music competitions and awards. As her life began to unravel, her music became her sole escape from a harsh and painful reality. Around the same time that the armed conflict forced her onto the streets, Katia also outgrew her violin and was forced to stop playing. Unable to do the one thing that brought her happiness, she felt hopelessly lost.
LifeChanger FSU heard about Katia’s unthinkable circumstances and immediately began raising money to renovate her grandmother’s apartment. Katia also began receiving psychological treatment for her PTSD, and her grandmother finally received the medical care she so desperately needed, crucial treatments than had been neglected and postponed due to the war.
Additionally, LifeChanger FSU ran a special fundraiser to buy Katia a new violin and keep her musical dreams alive. In a matter of hours, Katia received a beautiful new violin, a gift that moved her to tears. LifeChanger FSU then sent Katia to Gan Israel sleepaway camp in Rostov, Russia, for some much-needed fun and distraction. While there, she told her counselor that it was her dream to travel the world and play the violin in concert. “Thinking of that makes me imagine a happy life and forget my troubles for a short while.”
LifeChanger FSU continues to watch over Katia, ensuring that she not only receives the support she needs to live a better life, but continues to feed her passion and keep her musical aspirations alive. It’s not enough to heal a child in the present – it is essential to provide her with a bright future and a dream worth pursuing.