Lucila Orjuela


At the early stages of Ged and Stella’s lives, we had many difficulties to find suitable caregivers. We used to get an agency to find a carer. The agency did all the organizing and then the carer came into our house. We had many people working for us, but we could not find people that were committed enough and that could build a lasting relationship with both, our children, and us. Many of them came along, did their job, and that was it. Sometimes they would be late, they wouldn’t come, or even call to let us know of a change of plans. We were very frustrated and stressed.

After a while, we got the option of choosing to get Individualized Funding, which meant that we could have our own carer but we had to organize it ourselves. It still came through the government, but it gave us more flexibility. We were able to pay more to the right person and choose a good carer like Lucila. Having that option made a huge difference to us.

I used to talk to my neighbor William when I saw him outside his home. He used to work as a tradesman in Colombia and he was looking for work so he was interested in what I did as a builder. One day I saw his wife, Lucila, and I thought, ‘She must be a fantastic woman. She has raised three girls; she has got to know about kids. I must go over and meet her’. Then, I knocked on their door and said ‘Would Lucila like a job caring for kids? That’s how it started.

When Lucila started caring for our children it felt like having a grandmother coming into our lives. She filled the role that other families might have. Her support is vitally important for us and it helps us immensely. She told us once that she came to New Zealand to care for disabled kids. That was her vision.

Later on, we find out that, getting a job was very difficult and important for William and Lucila. They recently had immigrated to New Zealand. A job meant that they could integrate into this society, they could become independent and could contribute to the country that had adopted them. It was a new start in their lives. Lucila’s family was very grateful to us too. So it helped us all.

Even though she did not speak English she had this lovely big smile and we just knew, she was right for the job. It wasn’t hard at all really. She just kept saying, “Yes, yes, yes”. Of course, she didn’t understand a word, but she had all those motherly skills,  all she had to understand was that she had to mother the kids. She had a beautiful way with them.

Patrice and Graeme Crawford