With her radiant smile she captivates everyone who sees her

Lyuba is 52 years old. She is a very energetic, happy person, who in the presence of a caring and loving atmosphere captivates everyone with her radiant smile.

Lyuba was born with Down syndrome, which at the time was a great shock to her parents. Doctors recommended to her parents that they give Lyuba up, but they took her home and took care of her without any help from anyone. As a child, Lyuba had many medical problems. She also suffered greatly from the negative reactions from neighbors and people who saw her as she played outdoors, her favorite pastime. Their obvious disgust, bewilderment and pitiful looks were a source of great pain both to her mother and to Lyuba.

At the age of 8, Lyuba’s parents were forced to put her in an institution with the hope that she would learn to take care of herself and better develop her motor and intellectual skills. This was not an easy thing for them to do. The institution was located far from the city in an isolated wooded area. Lyuba felt very lonely there.  She lived with many other children, all of whom were deprived of the loving touch of parents and family, as well as basic human needs and adequate nutrition. This was not a nurturing environment for the children living there, but rather, it was a very demeaning, unloving, and abnormal way of life. As a result, the girl fell into a depression and withdrew from the world. Although the institutional staff did attempt to teach the children, they did not provide them with true love and understanding.

At the age of 16, Lyuba enthusiastically returned to Lviv to live with her parents. Although Lyuba was very energetic, she lacked companionship and friends to share her interests with her. Staying at home alone was uninteresting, and she was constantly trying to go outside, looking for something to do, and this became a source of great irritation and conflict to her parents.

In 2000 she began attending a workshop every day at a location not far from where she lived. Here Lyuba felt useful, accepted and loved by a community of people who meet with her every day at the workshop and enjoyed her company. Lyuba has a very important function at her workshop: she weaves cloth for bags on the loom, and is extremely proud of her work. She also loves to draw. Lyuba is conscientious, diligent, loves to keep the workshop neat and clean, but above all, loves to help others. She is delighted that she now has so many good friends in her life.

Lyuba’s relationship with her parents has also improved tremendously. She has become more calm and happier ever since she started attending the workshop. Her mother is no longer worried, because she knows that Lyuba has a place to go where she is wanted and loved.