Within a forest of tall, depressingly grey apartment blocks in Kiev, an amazing lady named Ludmila, singlehandedly cares for 504 families, including children and youth, inflicted with debilitating cerebral palsy. She must be one of the most inspiring ladies that we have encountered in Eastern Europe.
Ever reminding us of Mother Theresa and in order to relieve some of the tremendous stress on these socially neglected families, Ludmila arranges parties, prayer times, summer outings and social ‘get-togethers’ for families (mostly single parents) in need of mutual encouragement. These are people who would never be able to leave the stifling confines of their apartment blocks due to the demanding care and attention of their Cerebral children.
Employment and financial support is difficult in the Ukraine (including pensions for the elderly), meagre to the point of sometimes being non-existent. It’s a grim scenario prompting many husbands and fathers to reach for alcahol. It’s their way of dropping out of the pressures to survive, if only for a short time. The end result is that a high percentage of these men just disappear into society leaving wives and children to cope as best as they can.
All her financial needs for these activities are dependent on outside sources including Door of Hope. She receives no government aid and no personal salary. The Cerebral Palsy unit belongs to the government and Ludmila is given permission to use this facility at the weekends to hold her parties for these vulnerable people. They get the opportunity to make crafts, have food and enjoy karaoke. In kindness and generosity, Ludmila brings pleasing moments of release for families imprisoned within oppressive home conditions.
Many of these single parents, deserted by their husbands and pressurised by the responsibility of disabled children, lurch into alcoholism and depression.
In missions of mercy and in all kinds of weather, Ludmila tramps up and down tall tower blocks, many of them without lifts, visiting and helping these families. She has become a ray of light in dark places. “I trust God for his help,” were her memorable words to me. “He always seems to meet my needs.”