A Well-chosen Path


“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world”-William Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice.


 Ava has been trying her best to bring more magic and charm to the sketch of’ Iguazu water fall’ of Argentina with lush and dense subtropical plants, huge rainbow arcs, with different tropical birds. It is almost evening. She adjusts her glass and looks at the sketch more closely with a high hope to sale that in the upcoming charity auction to help the ‘Project Bread’.

 Ava is a respectable Harvard University professor in Psychology. She has earned many awards for her teaching and is loved by her students for her warm, caring, and loving nature. In her spare time she likes to sketch and involve herself in various community outreach projects. This summer she is not teaching classes so she wants to involve more with different community projects. Ava was almost done with her current sketch when she got distracted by news on the television about the plight of the Holocaust survivors in Ukraine. She is shocked to hear the present living conditions and the level of suffering, poverty and loneliness they are going through. She remembered the history of Babi Year ravine outside Kiev, where 33,771 innocent Jews were killed because of Hitler’s cruel plots. Heaven turned upside down during the Holocaust and now this for the survivors!

Ava dropped the sketching pencil, and sat quietly thinking about the innocent lives and their struggle. Her eyebrows were squeezed together forming a crease and the eyelids became tight and straight. She whispered,’ it is not fair, not fair at all’. She decided then and there to cancel her upcoming dream trip to Alaska, and instead to do some ground research on the Holocaust survivors in Ukraine. It was a hard decision.

 Later in the evening, Steve pulled into the driveway. It was beautiful weather for a long stroll, so he looked in the kitchen for Ava to see if she would like to take a long walk with him. But Ava was not there, so he went to the back yard to check if she was working in the garden, instead found her sitting in the porch with the sketch and lost in her thoughts with a frown on her face. Steve was little concerned now, because this happens only when a serious situation comes. He went towards his wife and asked “What is the matter Ava? Is everything okay?” Ava was in a dilemma that how to convince her husband about changing their planned trip. Then she smiled and said’ how was your day in the office? You must be tired, so let us go inside and I will make some Chamomile tea, ’saying that Ava opened the door knob of the kitchen.  While drinking tea she narrated the news she heard in the TV and tried to explain to Steve the importance of this trip not only to her but also for the society. They have cancelled similar trips many a times before for different causes so it was not new for Steve.  He notices that how hard Ava was trying to control her tear, so just to avoid that Steve asked “what about your dream trip to Alaska?’’ Ava smiled “it can wait, but this visit is more important, and it will be nicer.” Steve wanted her to be happy so he agreed that they can go ahead and make arrangements to travel to Ukraine.

In the first week of June Ava and Steve arrived at the Boryspil airport in Boryspill 29 km east of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. It was a very warm day. From there they took the shuttle to’ Premier Palace Hotel, in the heart of downtown Keiv.  I t is very popular because of its sophisticated design and courteous personnel and friendly service, the exclusive boutique gallery. That evening both went to bed early because of the tiring long flight. In the morning, on the breakfast table Ava and Steve were surprised to see all the fresh organic fruits and unique Ukraine concepts on the breakfast menus.  Ava made some phone calls to contact an interpreter to help them in going to different places to visit and talk to the Holocaust survivors. By the third phone call, she was lucky when Ionna  Mak, a friendly young lady agreed to be the interpreter, and to help them in their meeting process. Ava was very excited.

On the first house they meet Helen Berman, a 75 years old lady. Ionna introduces Ava and Steve to Helen. Helen said with a smile ‘privit! ‘laskavo prosimo’. She was very loving and hospitable. She offered three small cups of black tea to the guests and introduced to her husband on the wheel chair. After hearing the reason for Ava’s visit Helen hold Ava’s hand with affection and inquired about her flight, her kids, life in America and told her elaborately about their hard day today life without proper help from the government.  Before they leave, Ava walked into the kitchen to take the cups for washing when she noticed the big leak in the ceiling of the kitchen. Ava adjusted her glass and noted the important things that can be provided to this family. After one hour of chatting they were ready to leave.

Their next stop with Ionna, they meet Sofia Babich, a lady little over seventy. She talked with Ava, while cooking Borshch (The beet root soup with cabbage and tomato) on a partially functional stove top. Smilingly Sofia brings out three small soup bowl and said ‘bud’ laska, sprobuytetseyup.’ Ava and Steve enjoyed the tasty soup. To answer Ionna’s curiosity Sofia told how she worked hard for her entire life but could hardly save any money. Now the situation has come where she cannot pay the rent or buy food.  After that visit Ionna took Ava and Steve to one apartment complex where they came across the same stories about food, medicine and money.  It is very hard to see the innocent people in these conditions. When Ava and Steve finally wrapped up their day and headed to the hotel. Ava was tossing and turning on the bed and trying to sleep but it was hard. She was murmuring to herself that’ society is not fair to them at all’. She made up her mind to bring a little deserving happiness in the lives of these Holocaust survivors. “once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen”-Emerson.

After long years of planning Ava has succeeded in opening a big pantry in Ukraine, in collaboration with a Jewish organization and the help from few of her friends. They provide food, medicines, Psychological services, free vocational services, home care to the elderly survivors.  Once a month she tries to contact the Holocaust survivors to talk and listen to them. It is hard to take out any time to go anywhere but the smile and little happiness at the other end bring lots of happiness in Ava’s life. Today Ava has started another sketch on the famous, spectacular ‘Djur-djur fall.  

 “I slept and dreamt that life was joy, I woke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy”._ Rabindranath Tagore.



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