A note to the reader: In the course of my work for Chabad's Children of Chernobyl (an organization which airlifts Jewish children from the area infected by the Chernobyl reactor meltdown) I received a request to aid a 12 year old girl who had been found in an orphanage in Minsk. Since then, I have been working to arrange for the girl's aliyah to Israel and placement in a treatment center that can care for her multiple needs. The girl has captured the attention of the many people throughout the Jewish world. The ensuing months have been frustrating, with one bureaucratic obstacle after the other preventing her arrival in Israel. Each day brings hope, each day there is another setback. And each day Annya remains in Belarus, suffering. I wrote the following on one of those days.

Dear Annya,

I am doing my best. And I pray that it is good enough.

Daily I think of you. Worry about you. Pray for you.

You came to me unexpectedly. We never met. I have only seen your picture. And even that came long after I knew that we were bonded and that I was committed to helping you.

When I read your medical reports and the description of the dreadful place from where you came, I knew that G‑d had sent you to me, and me to you. I knew that we had some ancient bond, that there was a debt that I owed you, a debt that I must and will pay.

I have no ideas what that debt is, and it matters not. For if the A-mighty had not deemed me responsible to you, He would not have placed your life before me, and opened my heart so completely to your plight.

How can one begin to fathom your life? Abandoned at birth by your parents. Placed in an institution mockingly called an orphanage. Caged. Strait jacketed. Forced for twelve years to crawl on hands and knees because a simple operation was denied you, an operation that could correct the deformity caused by your Cerebral Palsy.

I read how you were found with pus dripping from your eyes, how you were forcibly held while your head was shaved, how you are unable to read nor write, nor have you even used a pencil or crayon.

My G‑d! You have never even seen a toy!

I filled in the gaps: A child never kissed or hugged. Never comforted. With no one to listen to your loneliness. Your pain. Your fears. Your hopes (if indeed any were left to you).

I wept in sadness and in anger. And I've wept ever since. Wept because you are still in Belarus. Still suffering. Despite all my attempts. Despite the attempts by so many people who care about you. Lovely people into whose hearts you have literally crawled and yet who, like me, are yet impotent to bring you safety, to love, to health, and to hope.

Who must you have been, dear Annya, to have evoked so much in so many people? For they, like me, have a commitment that goes far beyond sentimentality or pity. How great you must be and have been, how much good you must have done to us all at some time or other. Will we be able to repay you?

With certainty I know of this debt that I have to you. A certainty proven by your goodness. For it is your goodness, more than your pain and torment, that has touched me so deeply.

The report by those who found you reads:

This girl came to our attention because though she could not walk but crawled, though pus was dripping from her eyes, she was the child who crawled to help the others. It was Annya who crawled, sitting on her bottom, pulling herself forward by hands that had become callused and deformed from the effort, to fetch the one urinal used by the many children who could not move, but were held captive in their beds, cribs, and cages. It was Annya who crawled to fetch the one toothbrush shared by all the children in the ward. It was Annya that exhibited such goodness that we knew that this child deserved an extra chance.

Is it really any wonder when later they discovered that you, dear Annya, are Jewish? That you come from the one people marked by the three signs of "Compassion, Modesty and Acts of Kindness"? Though you were abandoned, raised in the most cruel and inhumane conditions, deprived of any vestige of human comfort or kindness, these qualities of your Jewish soul shone so brightly that you were noticed in the midst of absolute darkness, total despair.

Annya, as a beacon shines across the ocean, the light of your goodness has reached people all over the world, people who now flock to your aid. And on behalf of them I promise that we will repay our debt, that you will have your chance, that you will arrive at a place of safety and of love, please G‑d let it be soon.

I promise you Annya, that we will fulfill the promise that G‑d has placed before you.