Translation of an article that appeared on the Ynet website
“To be Old and Poor Is the Scariest Thing in the World”
“I’m alone in the house and always cold. The walls are too thin and I’m chilled to the bone.” Not all Israelis are able simply to turn on the heat in their homes. Chasdei Naomi is distributing blankets and winter equipment to seniors, Holocaust survivors, and other needy people. Donate to the organization and help them help those in need.
“I’m cold at night,” says Israel (all names in the article have been changed to maintain confidentiality), a Holocaust survivor and cancer patient, “I don’t have a lot of friends, family, or people to take care of me and the winter brings not only cold but also a lot of loneliness, since it’s hard to go outside – so most of the time I’m in the house.”
He adds, “I also have cancer and I have to watch every shekel I spend, whether it’s on current household expenses like electricity, food, or medications. I have no complaints, but I’m not ashamed to ask for help, either; I need it. And any assistance I get helps me survive.”
Seventeen-year-old Refael also talks about the difficult feelings that winter brings: “There are three of us in the house, I have a brother who’s a combat soldier and is usually on base, so expenses are divided up only between me, my sister, and my mother. Sometimes he also stays on base for financial reasons,” he says, “We hate the winter, the Tel Aviv walls are terribly thin and the house is an ice box.”
Cold doesn’t care about age
“Winter scares me,” says Dalia, a senior citizen who lives alone. “I’m alone in the house, and I’m always cold. The walls are too thin and I’m chilled to the bone. When I turn the heat on I can never enjoy a moment’s peace because I’m constantly worried about the costs of the different electrical items. It doesn’t really matter if the fears are real or exaggerated, to be both old and poor isn’t easy in today’s Israel.
“When you add the loneliness, it’s really hard. I try not to get caught up in self-pity but between the poverty, the cold that keeps you cooped up in the house, and the loneliness, I don’t know what scares me more. And this winter feels colder than ever,” she confesses. Besides Dalia, there are many other different types of people whom Chasdei Naomi serves; cold doesn’t care about age.
Chasdei Naomi staff note that it’s those who are hungry throughout the year who suffer from cold in the winter, and they’re the ones who are forced to neglect their health for financial reasons. The elderly seem to be the most helpless of all. “To be old and poor is the scariest thing that can happen among the needy,” note sources in the organization, which assists over 50,000 people.
“I don’t know which I hate more, the holidays or the winter,” says Oleg. “The holidays remind me of my loneliness and the lack of basic food, winter freezes me and makes me a prisoner in my own home, if you can call it a home. Everything’s falling apart and covered with moisture; except for the organizations I feel like the government’s abandoned us, I was once a person with dignity and now I go around with my head down.”