God knew about Dina…
By Katie Leatherwood
RIGA, Latvia – Before coming to Latvia, I prayed that God would send someone to help serve those affected by disability alongside me. I knew the type of ministry I was about to begin was a very specific niche that many people do not see the need for or know little about, specifically prosthetics and orthotics. I had some doubt that this person would be in Latvia and acknowledged I would probably be doing most of the O&P things myself.
Well God already had this issue figured out! He knew about Dina, a Christ-following Latvian that has a heart to serve people with disabilities. Not only that, but she is also an O&P student eager to learn more about O&P techniques, practices and patient care. Even more, she can relate to people affected with disabilities in a very personal way because she is also an above-knee amputee. Dina has been my #1 partner since arriving to Latvia. She has helped me to talk with patients, shared her O&P skills and told her story to groups to increase disability awareness.
Every little doubt I had before coming to Latvia about beginning an unlikely type of ministry has been overcome in such precise ways, only the way God can do.
Musician. Student. Daughter. Friend. Translator. Technician. Encourager. These are just a few words that describe Dina. She lost her leg above the knee eight years ago due to cancer. She had been wearing a very basic prosthesis that limited her full potential of walking and made her reliant on a walking cane.
My story with Dina began in September, when she volunteered to be a ‘patient model’ for demonstration and instruction of a more advanced prosthetic socket design that I was training some clinicians on. Following the training, Dina would receive a new prosthesis with the advanced socket design. Due to the generosity of some O&P offices in the USA, Dina was also able to get a more advanced prosthetic knee and foot system that greatly enhanced her walking potential. The short time I have known her, I have seen her greatly improve in her walking and now she does not need to use a walking cane!
Dina is a great example of living beyond a disability. She does not let her amputation limit her in the slightest. She walks the streets of Riga not ashamed to show her prosthesis. Her courage and determination is reflected onto others. When she was determined to not walk with a cane, unknowingly she also influenced other amputees she encountered to walk with pride and confidence. Dina has been with me during many home and hospital visits. Her authentic love and care is seen as she encourages others. I count it an honor to mentor Dina in the O&P practice. From evaluating and measuring a patient to fabricating the device, she has been there to learn and to share her skills and enthusiasm.
She challenges us all that a person with a disability is so much more than that. Although Dina’s amputation story and life with a prosthesis had molded and shaped who she is today, it does not define her. Dina is truly a blessing to me, the Designed to Live ministry and everyone she encounters!