Gulnara passed away, having lost her two-year battle with cancer. She was only 23. This heavy news reached us during our summer camp for single mothers.
In her early childhood, Gulnara moved with her mother and three siblings from Tajikistan to Moldova, where they found their new home in a small village. Mother was looking after the children alone, and working hard on the fields. The only support she had was when Sunday schools took care of her children. Eventually, Gulnara’s mother became addicted to alcohol, as did one of her brothers, and the day-to-day situation at home worsened. Living conditions became even harder when the family house burnt out, forcing Gulnara to leave in search of a better life and future. She started to sing in bars and pubs, and life seemed to get better.
Then Gulnara met a man who she thought would become a good husband and father for her children. One day, she realized they were going to have a baby – but her happiness would not last. The father of the child refused to accept the news. “I’m not ready for this yet!” the young man said, and he vanished as if into thin air.
So Gulnara was alone again, without any support to face an uncertain future. She gave birth to a beautiful girl, but the happiness was mixed with pain and despair. Gulnara lost her job, and had to live in a broken house without electricity or heating. On top of all this, Gulnara’s older sister asked her to look after her own little baby while she went abroad to work.
Gulnara had spoken of this time after her sister disappeared. “I don’t know how I survived this long year. It was so terrible. I was dead tired, strained and exhausted with two little babies,” she recalled. “Then, during the winter, I felt that something was wrong with my body.”
Doctors detected that Gulnara had a breast cancer. It was shocking news, yet there was nobody to encourage and support her. She was in conflict with her mother, her sister had disappeared somewhere in Europe, and her brothers were busy with their own business. The situation became worse still when Gulnara received her first chemotherapy treatment for the cancer.
By the time a friend brought Gulnara to the BOL center, she was homeless, helpless and weak after three chemotherapies, with a child in her arms, and embittered to God and towards people around her. The BOL team began to help Gulnara, supporting her materially with clothing and a monthly nutrition package, helping her find safe housing, and providing emotional and spiritual assistance.
During this period we became active participants in, and eyewitnesses of, Gulnara’s wonderful recovery in her relationship with the God she had known since early childhood. Through a process of re-examining her past and present life and hope for the future, she came to a point of restoring relations with her mother and older sister, with whom she had been angry. Her mother began to take care of Gulnara and her little daughter.
Later, Gulnara’s sister took her to Moscow to seek better treatment for her, but doctors told her they could not help. As Gulnara testified when Yulia Ubeyvolk visited her, “God was knocking on the door of my heart for so long. But I was enmeshed in vanity. If God didn’t deprive me of all I had, I couldn’t come back to Him.” We knew that Gulnara would soon pass away; she was sinking hourly, having no strength even to eat or walk.
From the very beginning, BOL was helping disadvantaged people to begin a new life – but in this situation, we helped a woman to die in peace. Gulnara’s 3-year-old daughter is growing up with her grandmother, not as an orphan on the street. We are glad that God allowed us to participate in the life of this young woman and make a difference in it.