Wings for a Flower
story and illustrations by Ellen Gaffney
In 2004, I learned about Lotus Blossom and her wheelchair from the founder of The Free Wheelchair Mission, Don Schoendorfer. It struck me as a wonderful story for children.
When I started writing, I realized I needed to learn more about Lotus, her family and her world, so in 2005 I went to India. I visited seven cities there, meeting many people who need wheelchairs, but do not have them, and I met their families and friends too. It was in the city of Chennai, in Tamil Nadu, that I was able to spend time with Lotus and her family, and learn more about what it was like for her, first, to become ill, and then to learn that she was not likely to be able to walk again. As she said, she "felt like a baby". Because her family was not able to afford a wheelchair, Lotus spent much of her time on the floor of their hut. Going to school and playing outside became nearly impossible.
For Lotus, and for many people (approximately 100 Million) who are both physically disabled and very poor, disability can mean isolation, lack of education, and even not being accepted by one's community. A wheelchair can be a help not only to the person who cannot walk on his own, but also to family members and friends who are caring for, and often, carrying that person.
I hope you'll enjoy the story of Lotus Blossom and her wheelchair in the book, Wings for a Flower!