KIEV ELDERLY | It's 10am on a Thursday morning and Tanya is on her first visit of the day. She works for Hesed, a charitable organisation catering for over 10,000 elderly Jews who lived through Nazi occupation with the 1941 massacre of Babi Yar and pervasive unofficial anti-semitism of the Soviet state.

Sergei Yakovlevich is one of her regular clients. At 86, his health is deteriorating and he requires regular check-ups. He has difficulty walking, is hard of hearing and and has various problems with his eyesight. A former craftsman and builder, he has no family or children and lives alone in his flat.

Tanya takes him through an array of medicines she has bought for his blood pressure, heart and eyes. Sergei Yakovlevich is lucky to have access to these pills. Like many other Ukrainians his age, the state pension he receives is insufficient to cover his basic living, heating and food costs, let alone vital extras like medication. It is not unusual to see elderly Ukrainians begging in metro stations and underpasses.

Isaak Lvovich, 88, also has no living relatives after losing his wife to cancer 5 years ago. He served on a soviet submarine during World War II, and later had a successful career as a lawyer. A keen anglophile, Isaak speaks beautiful English.

Another Hesed worker, Elena, is visiting Isaak Lvovich. Elena first met him when distributing food parcels to Jewish pensioners on behalf of Hesed, but since his health deteriorated now spends several hours with him every day. Isaak Lvovich's previously formidable memory is fading and it's important to keep him stimulated; sometimes they talk about the news or what's on TV.

Elena regularly cuts Isaak Lvovich's hair and shaves him. These small routines of their former lives are particularly important to those who are no longer able to look after themselves.

The warmth, care and love provided to these vulnerable pensioners are invaluable for their well-being. For Elena and Isaak Lvovich they they also include moments of fun.

LONDON, UK | e: nina.sologubenko@gmail.com |

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