Lora’s amazing story
This is Lora.
On these photos, taken in 1998, she is 7 years old and she weighs 7 kilograms.
When the Southafrican couple Jack and Elsabe Louw visit the home in Dobromirci, Lora is in the last crib of the last room they enter.
‘We were told she’ll be dead soon’, Elsabe Louw remembers.
Lora is diagnosed with ‘brain damage’, and cerebral palsy.
The Louw’s managed to get her admitted for tests in a hospital in Sofia. There was no sign of brain damage. Lora was simply extremely neglected and malnourished.
The Louw’s succeeded to obtain a medical visa for Lora, so that she could come to South Africa for treatment. There, with the help of therapists, she first learned to sit, then to crawl and eventually to walk – all within one year.
In the meantime, the Louw’s started an adoption procedure.
10 years after she’s left the institution, Lora – once unable to talk and walk – speaks English and Afrikaans, as well as some Bulgarian, and is constantly running around.
Lora’s case is an extreme example of what care and love can do for institutionalized children.
Lora remembers certain things from her life in Dobromirci. ‘She does not want children to get hurt. In the beginning when she saw a child getting hurt or cried, she would cry for hours, lying on the bed in a fetus position. She still withdraws when there is shouting or violence’, Elsabe Louw says.
(Seeing Lora’s photos in 2005 became the reason for me to start investigating the abuses in the home in Dobromirci. Here’s a link to that investigation, in Bulgarian. The home eventually got closed down. However, most of the children were not deinstitutionalised, but were merely placed in other care homes.)