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From signpost to workshop

Written by Huib, published Thursday February 2nd, 2017

Exactly a year ago, my friend Carla got a notification to report on her progress on job applications. She is in an electrical wheelchair and had one arm amputated. Regardless, she had to visit the office of the UWV, the Dutch institution which deals with disability status and payments. “Apply for a job!? As what? As a sign post for the Dutch Rail?”, I asked, when she told me somewhat flabbergasted. At least that made her smile again.


Unlike most stories that I tell from ‘Lyme Lands’, these one actually has a suprising happy ending. I’d like to share it with you, because it is a beautiful example of how someone can always manage to find possibilities to continue and to connect to others. Regardless how difficult the circumstances.

Back to January 2016. Carla called the UWV to ask if she realy had to come. The person answering the phone could not be persuaded. “The system says you have to show up. No, we cannot come to your place. Suppose everyone would ask for a home visit.”  

So I thought up something, in order to have her go there with a better feeling. She does not allow me to tell you what it, but what I intended was for her to feel empowered. It worked, as you can see from her grin in the movie below.

It took some effort for her to actually get there. The nurse had to come early, her Canta had broken down again, so her son had to be woken after a nightshift to bring her with the other car. But finally she was read to go job hunting.

When she arrived at the office of the UWV, two very kind employees welcomed her. They were shocked that she had been called in. They had a good conversation and she was promised to never have to come again.At least, until Carla was hired by the UWV to do her new workshop ‘Living with a (physical) limitation‘. In it she uses her experience as a dancing teacher to allow people to easily put themselves in the shoes (or wheelchair) of somebody else. In this way people can both experience what it is like to live like her, but also to appreciate how a limitation can be turned into a possiility. After having been a professional dancer, Carla is now a para (wheelchair) tabletennis player and she makes art, with one hand.

It turned out that one of these two employees was so impressed that she want to organise some follow-up, that she made sure that Carla was hired, even though she no longer worked there herself. The group of UWV employees was very enthousiastic to learn and one of them said how touched so was to see how strong and positive Carla still is.

This is what struck me as well, when I visited her yesterday. She told me that she is hoping now that both her feet can be amputated.

Where outsiders will probably be frightened by that word, to her it means new freedom. Beaming she was telling me how much will be possible after that operation. I admire my friend for her ability to keep seeing this and to inspire other to see the same.

Carla’s whole story can be read in Shifting the Lyme Paradigm.

Huib Kraaijeveld

Author of “Shifting the Lyme Paradigm” and initiator of the On Lyme Foundation

P.S. by sharing this small story, I consciously sidestep from the tough path of Child Protection Services for a while. I will wait until the current BVIKZ investigation is done, before I skip steps and create damage; regardless of good intentions.


drs. Huib Kraaijeveld

In: Blog Bureaucracy Inspiration Lyme Nonsense Social

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