Koka Albikhadzhieva, 47, has been bedbound for two decades. She lives in Zavodskoy district, Chechen Republic.
“My parents were deported, together with other citizens, from Chechnya to Kazakhstan in 1944,” Koka told us. “I was born in Kazakhstan.
“When I was four, I fell into a big pit in our yard and dislocated my hip. I could not walk for four years and had to use crutches. Then I had an operation and could walk again. Life went on, and we returned to Chechnya.”
After completing college, Koka found a job in a factory, which she enjoyed. But then, her life was shattered by a brutal conflict which killed over 100,000 people and forced many more to flee their homes.
“In January 1995, I was sheltering from a bombardment in a basement. We spent a week or so there, and I got cold. I had a great pain in my legs. I fell down and could not move. Since then, I have been bedbound.”
Koka now relies on her disability pension, and a teenaged girl who takes care of the apartment and helps her to cook.
“I am thankful to God for my pension and I don’t ask for anything else. What I have is enough for me. Honestly speaking, sometimes I lose heart, but then I feel ashamed for those sad thoughts. My disability is a test from God, and I am taking all the difficulties I have faced with gratitude, hoping that it will be taken into account during Judgement Day.
“When I feel worse, I need to buy expensive medicines and my pension is not enough to cover all expenses. Then I call my brother and ask him to lend me some money. In comparison with families who have many children, I don’t live a hard life. I face problems from time to time, but I resolve them with God’s help.”
For Koka, Ramadan is a particularly special time in which she strives to move closer to God.
“Ramadan is a gift given us by God, showing His mercy. It is a chance for people to ask for forgiveness and get closer to Paradise. It is a sacred month for me. I concentrate on my religion and it brings me great satisfaction.
“People say that I am disabled and I don’t need to fast, but I am fasting, because what can be better than the opportunity to show your love for God?”
This year, Koka broke her fast with the help of an Islamic Relief food parcel, which were distributed to the most vulnerable people and families in the area. The packages contained buckwheat, flour, rice, cooking oil and sugar as well as cookies.
“The Ramadan parcel was a great surprise. Thank you very much. It will help me to save money for medicines and save me from hunger.
“Everybody knows Islamic Relief, because it has helped thousands and thousands of poor people here. I thank Islamic Relief for all of this food.”
This Ramadan, more than 3,700 vulnerable families in the Chechen Republic benefitted from Islamic Relief foodpacks.