The Faces of Last Bell’s Future, Part II
These are the last two blogs in our 10th Anniversary series – thank you for reading, and taking this journey through the years with us!
We’ve shared several blogs celebrating the stories of several young people we met in the early years of Last Bell. Now it’s time to meet the young people we’re just getting to know. Zhenya and Masha are young, beautiful souls, beginning to heal from the trauma of their past and look to the future. Their energetic service to those around them is changing the landscape of Zhytomyr!
Last Bell’s young people often find themselves in need of immediate help – often from years with guardians who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, pay attention to their health and well-being.
Masha’s parents were both alcoholics. One day when they were drinking and quarreling, Masha’s mother killed her father. For some reason, Masha’s mother wasn’t convicted of a crime, so while Masha went to live with her grandmother, her little sister Ira stayed at home.
But when Masha was ten, her grandmother died. Her grandfather was very sick, so Masha and Ira soon went to the orphanage in Berdichiv.
Even though Masha was in a terrible situation, she found hope unexpectedly. Here’s what she said about her time at the orphanage:
“I was sad and heavy in my heart. I covered my face with my hands and cried a lot. I was unbearably lonely. I was alone on the planet… And then I saw a Christian newspaper on the floor. I still don’t know where it came from. Peeking through my fingers, I read a poem that said: ‘Do not cry, darling, I am with you. For I am the Lord, and you are mine.’ Since then, I knew God was near me.”
Masha, center, enjoying time with two Last Bell staff members
She prayed that after the orphanage, she would meet Christians. Then, when she was studying at the Medical College in Zhytomyr, our Educational Outreach staff visited the social dorm where she was living! Last Bell began mentoring her, and helping with food and clothes.
In 2015 she became a Christian, and that same year entered Zhytomyr Agricultural University. Now she lives with her sister, and helps with many ministries at her church. She visits orphanages in the area with an organization called Agape.
Masha’s sister Ira is on the right, next to staff member Lena Voznyuk and Masha
Recently Masha was diagnosed with severe myopia in both eyes. If she didn’t have an $800 surgery within six months, it would be too late to restore her vision, and she would eventually go blind. Masha dreamed of having good vision, and brought her dream before God!
Thanks to the quick intervention of some Last Bell friends, Masha’s surgery was paid for. Our staff took her to the British vision center in Kyiv – the best clinic in Ukraine. They ran tests to make sure the laser surgery would be helpful for her condition. First she had a preliminary procedure, and on November 18th she had the main surgery.
Thanks to Last Bell’s supporters, Masha will look toward the coming years of her young adulthood with good eyesight – and with hope!
Masha is a precious member of our community who loves to give back!