Michaela DePrince’s story has inspired many.
Born in the war-torn lands of Sierra Leone and surrounded by death and chaos, Michaela had little to dream about, but now the young and talented ballerina has captured hearts with her triumphant tale.
Michaela was born in Sierra Leone 17 years ago when bloodshed and conflict reigned supreme in the West African nation. She lost both her parents in the war.
“My mom – she starved to death because my dad was shot when he was out trading,” the 17-year-old said in a recent television interview.
An orphan, Michaela was taken to an orphanage by an uncle, but she found no welcome there.
“Because I had vertigo, which is a loss of pigmentation in my skin, they called me the devil’s child, so I was the least favorite child,” she said.
But the gifted dancer saw something at that drab orphanage that gave her hope.
On the gate of the orphanage where she stayed during the nation’s civil war, there was an image of an American ballet dance posed on tip toe.
She told the Associated Press that she wished “to become this exact person”.
Her wish came true. Michaela was soon adopted from the orphanage by an American couple, the DePrince’s.
“I never thought anyone would actually want me,” the young dancer said.
Elaine DePrince and her husband did. They adopted Michaela and another little girl from Sierra Leone 13 years ago.
“I thought it was a dream,” Michaela said. “It took me years to realize I wasn’t dreaming that someone actually wanted me”.
Elaine said her daughter was very sick when she first arrived the United States. “She had mono and she had Hepatitis A,” Elaine said.
But young Michaela soon received treatment and recovered and once she was on her feet, all she wanted to do was dance.
Her adoptive father, Charles DePrince, said they noticed her gift and quickly enrolled her in dance classes.
“We knew immediately that she had a special gift,” her father said.
Her gift blossomed and Michaela soon got a scholarship to attend the Jacklyn Kennedy Onasis school at the American Ballet Theatre two years ago.
“I’ve been dancing ever since,” Michaela said, and to wide acclaim.
Elaine said she never expected that the little girl she rescued from war-torn Sierra Leone will become one of the best dancers in the nation.
But Michaela believes with a little love and support, “you can achieve anything”.
The talented dancer is now inspiring young Africans. She is returning to Africa for the first time next week where she will perform as a guest artist of South Africa’s two biggest dance companies, the AP reported.