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October 3, 2019
Eastern Europe

Fixing homes and changing lives this Jewish New Year


Fixing homes and changing lives this Jewish New Year

Our Home Repairs Programme is truly life-changing. A new bathroom, plastered walls and secure windows might sound like small jobs but for the older Jewish people we help, they provide hope where there had been none.

For some it’s the first time they’ll have an indoor toilet or hot shower. For others it finally banishes the damp and mould that has been exacerbating their poor health. For most it provides the insulation desperately needed so they don’t spend the majority of their pension trying to heat their home.

No-one should live like this

Many older Jewish people in Ukarine, Moldova and Georgia live in crumbling homes and are unable to afford even the most basic maintenance. These flats and houses were often given to them decades ago during the Soviet era but haven’t been maintained properly during that time. They’ve seen their pensions shrink to as little as £50 a month while prices for utilities and medicine have continued to rise. Many of them struggle to pay for food, medicine and energy and there is rarely any money left over to repair their homes.

Crumbling ceilings, decrepit bathrooms and kitchens, broken windows and doors – this sub-standard accommodation is not only depressing and undignified, it also exacerbates health problems and has a detrimental effect of mental health. Many older people become isolated and resigned to their situation as they can see no way out.

Repairing homes

We started repairing homes in 2011 and since then have fixed more than 3,100 homes across Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. Working with local Jewish organisations we identify participants and the repairs they most urgently need. Local, reputable contractors are then asked to quote and we select the one which offers best value for money whilst retaining a high level of service and sensitivity to the needs of the people we are helping.

The average cost of repairing a home is £2000 – we focus on the following areas:

Insulation: Making sure homes are warm is a high priority for us. By replacing doors and windows, homes become warmer by between 2 and 5 degrees. This allows older people to spend less money on heating and more on food and medicines.

Roof repairs: After repairing the roofs of selected houses, the ceilings are now dry, with damp and mould eliminated. There is no longer any risk of flooding.

Bathroom facilities: New plumbing is installed and broken toilets fixed. Older people, many of whom have limited mobility, are finally able to maintain basic sanitary levels and regain their dignity.

Flooring: Hazardous flooring is replaced, allowing people to move about their homes freely without the fear of tripping and falling.

Safety: New entrance doors are fitted, making older people feel safer and more secure within their homes.

What next?

We estimate there are nearly 2,600 homes which still need repair in Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. This year our target is to transform 182 homes but we will need to raise £364,000 to carry out this work. 

We know how life-changing our work is for the people we help with all the participants telling us they now feel warm, dry and secure and thanks to our repairs are able to live in comfort and dignity.

You can help us by donating here.

A kitchen and bathroom not fit for use

Karina’s house was crumbling around her. The toilet and kitchen had flooded and there were gaping holes where the rain had come in through the roof. She was scared to go to the toilet because the ceiling could fall in on her at any moment.

I was frustrated and felt that my situation would never change. For many years, we worked so hard to give our family a good life. To find yourself with nothing in your later years is very disheartening and I felt completely hopeless.

Our Home Repairs team fitted new windows, repaired all the holes in the ceilings, replastered the walls, fixed the door and made sure Karina had a safe, warm place to call her home.

I feel much better, because it’s calmer, I feel more comfortable. What walls I have, what ceiling, what tiles, what a floor – a kitchen!

Karina can now use the kitchen and bathroom without fear of the ceilings caving in but most importantly she can have her grandchildren over again, who love to visit and make memories with their Booba. She’s no longer ashamed of her house and is once again at the centre of her family, cooking and caring for them in her own home.

Clogged sewage and no hot water

Garry’s flat was in a terrible state of disrepair. The sewage was clogged, the plumbing didn’t work and there was virtually no running water. The wallpaper in the kitchen, hallway and living room, where he sleeps, had peeled off because the flat was so cold and damp. The floor had collapsed and was merely sand and stone. It was dangerous to just walk around. Garry spent less and less time at home, staying out for as long as possible. The conditions made him physically unwell and took its toll on his mental health.

The worst was the lack of any hot water. If I needed a shower I would have to go to a friend’s flat.

Cold, damp and unfit to live in

Alexander lives in his tiny flat on the 5th floor without a lift. The windows were cracked and couldn’t keep out the cold. In the bathroom water trickled from a hole directly above the stained and dirty bath where a sewage pipe had burst in the flat above. The hole just got bigger and more dangerous. The toilet and the drain from it didn’t work. After using the toilet Alexander had to gather water in a bucket from the trickling kitchen tap and pour it down the toilet in order to flush it.

Help us change the lives of older Jewish people like Garry and Alexander, living in these unsafe and undignified conditions by donating here.