In 1960, Liudmila was Ukraine’s top chess player and a member of the Soviet Union’s national team. She’s always seen chess as a game that prepares you for life, the kind of game that makes you think. And when it comes to which chess piece best defines her? She knows one thing: She’s no pawn.

Life has been cruel to Liudmila, however. She was born on the run in a Russian city 1,500 kilometers from Kiev, where her family had fled to escape the Nazis. And though she worked in a factory for decades, the collapse of the Soviet Union left her with a pension of less than two dollars a day. Liudmila worked hard her whole life, only to end up in poverty, and alone. But our Jewish Federation-supported partner agency JDC — which looks after vulnerable Jews worldwide — provides Liudmila with aid that helps keeps her alive.

Meet Liudmila and learn her incredible story in this short video from JDC.