Luda is 28 years old. She remembers as a young girl coming first in a race at school. But that is now a very distant memory. When Luda was 16 years old she became sick and as a result developed ‘miasteniya’. This disease affects nerves and muscles and consequently Luda was left in a wheel chair for a number of years. Miasteniya is treatable but costly. Luda has had one operation and she walks with a pronounced limp. Stairs are very difficult and slow for her. Usually someone carries her up and down the stairs at church.

I had the privilege of visiting Luda and seeing her art work. She loves to draw. She mainly draws objects or copies pictures that are in front of her. I photographed a sampling of her art (sorry I don’t have a photo of Luda yet as she decided she was not dressed properly for a photograph).

We talked at length. I hesitantly asked her about her limp. She was really happy to talk. She wanted to know if I had more questions. She said it was wonderful for someone to take an interest in her life. She has very few visitors and doesn’t get out of the house very much at all.

I asked my favourite question, “Luda, what is your dream for life?” She replied, “To be healthy, to be happy, to be loved.” Luda went on to say that healthy people mistreat and don’t care for their bodies and they take their health for granted. We only tend to care about something when we have lost it. She said that this is true not only of physical health but also of spiritual health. We must take great care to look after our health.

It was time to eat, Luda wanted to know if I had any more questions.

She says, “I often feel that no one is interested in me. It gives strength when someone shows interest. I feel that I am of no use to anyone. We (people with disabilities) need to know that we are needed.” That last sentence grabbed me. I felt like a journalist but I had to write down what she was saying to me. We need to know we are needed .

I thought back to my days at teaching at school in Australia. The school was founded with the vision that disabled people could be educated equally with normal ability students. Students were allowed to believe that they were needed.
May you or I never pass by those whose needs may be greater than ours.