Meet Denis: Medical Advocacy Matters

In March, we’ll be sharing about the medical needs of our youth – part of caring for mind, body, and spirit!

This profile of Denis is a good illustration of holistic care: no dramatic, life-threatening emergencies, just the steady work of mentorship and being “extended family” in a medical system that requires family help.

Story shared by Vasya Y.

Denis’s mother was an alcoholic, and he never knew his father. We met him last year at the orphanage in Berdichiv, but really got to know him later during our life skills lessons at the trade school for mechanics.

Vasya and Denis

Denis visits our Day Center, where he’s made many friends, almost every day. We’ve also taken him on individual outings, getting to know him and his needs. He’s a sociable kid who dreams of marrying and having his own house and family.

Like so many orphanage graduates, he faces some obstacles to this dream. But we’ve been helping Denis with legal support for housing, and he’s now in the queue with social services for an apartment.

Denis would also be lost without medical advocacy.

Receiving a hygiene gift bag from Last Bell

For orphans, medical care starts with hygiene. We teach hygiene skills, and gave Denis a hygiene kit that includes soap, shampoo, a toothbrush, toothpaste, and other necessities.

Orphans often leave the orphanage without any vision care. So we took Denis to an eye doctor. He needed reading glasses to help him study.

Many of our youth need eye care

Early in 2019, for about a month Denis suffered from otitis, a chronic inflammation of the ears. Every day we visited him at the hospital and brought hot lunches. We helped pay for treatment and medications, a total of about $20. This is the role of family, and without these visits, an orphan would feel lonely and abandoned during an illness.

Visiting in the hospital

Soon, Denis needs surgery to treat strabismus (crossed eyes). The cost is only $200, not much by our standards! But it will mean a lot to Denis. We’ve shown we care about him through getting to know him and meeting these minor medical needs. When something bigger comes along in the next few years, medical or otherwise, we’ll be ready – and Denis knows it!