Yevgenia Segal has been waiting for 20 years for public housing. Meanwhile, after fighting starvation as a child, she struggles to pay rent for her small unit. “I’m afraid of the day when I won´t be able to make a living,” she says, “that I will have no way to survive.”
Even at the age of 81, Yevgenia Segal, a Holocaust survivor, is forced to go out and work as a caregiver for the elderly. She has no choice. For 20 years she has been waiting to get an apartment in public housing, and in the meantime she has to support herself – so that she can pay rent for the storage unit where she lives, which has almost no windows and daylight barely penetrates it, and has been converted into a housing unit. Despite everything, Yevgenia is not complaining.
“I have to work because I don’t have my own apartment and I have to pay rent and bills,” she says. “If I don’t work, I will have a hard time buying things I need. I am afraid that one day I will no longer be able to support myself. “.
She was born in Ukraine, but during World War II moved with her mother to a town near Siberia, where they suffered from severe starvation. “I was a little girl and very sick,” she says. “I couldn’t walk nor talk. My father was killed in the war, the Nazis shot him, and my mother, who was a Russian teacher, worked as much as she could to make money and support us. But we had almost no food, not even bread.”
After the war Yevgenia returned to Ukraine, started a family and worked as an engineer. In 1996, a few years after she was widowed, she immigrated to Israel with her mother, son and family. At the age of 57 she started her life all over again and had to make a professional transition. “I am an engineer, but since making Aliyah I have worked in cleaning. Later, I started working as a caregiver for the elderly.”
As mentioned, Yevgenia continues to care for the elderly to this day. She loves to work, she says, happy to leave home and meet people, but admits in the same breath that she has to do physical work so she can pay the bills.
“It’s hard to work at 81, but I have no choice,”
“Well at least I’m not alone at home all the time. It’s hard. There’s no one to talk to, no one to tell things to.
As a Holocaust survivor, Yevgenia receives pension from the National Insurance Institute and once a year is also entitled to an additional “bonus”. Despite the economic insecurity, she is careful to remain optimistic and positive, emphasizing that she would not want to be a burden to anyone, not to her son nor the country. “I have a lovely son and he and his family help as much as they can, but they also have a life of their own and I do not want to burden them. The State of Israel is also a good country, and I am not alone, there are many people like me. I understand that they can’t give people as much money as they want “.
Moshe Cohen, director general of the Chasdei Naomi association, which assists Yevgenia, is outraged at the difficult living conditions of someone who went through such a terrible childhood. “Just because you breathe does not mean you are alive,” he emphasizes. . Those who were supposed to be treated as kings, end up finishing their lives this way. Shame. Each of us should look at them and imagine what it would be like if one of our relatives lived like this. As the existing reality continues, we will continue to fight for the living conditions of every survivor. ”