World Vision Albania
article • Friday, February 10th 2017

“I have won my war”

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"I was 3 years old when I fell down the stairs, and I was 4 years old when I began to realize that something was wrong with my face. I realized from the way how other would look at me. My peers would tell me: Why are you like this? I would look at myself in the mirror, and see that my face was not perfect, but I could not understand how I should be. Then I would ask my mom and dad: But why am I like this? But they would tell me that I was very pretty. I do not remember whether I believed them or not ...

When I grew up, it became even more difficult. Now, I always keep my hair released, and keep them on one side of the face. It is normal. I do not want it to be seen. I do not want others to see what I want to keep unrevealed. When I talk to people, I try to stay on the profile. Even when I pose for a picture I sit on my profile. Dad always asks me: Matilda why? Why did you bind your hair? Why did you turn your head? But for me it is a habit now to cover my face. People, the way they look and point at me does not let me forget it. One day I was on the bus. Two guys were looking at me and talking to each other. Then, one of them pointed at me. I turned my head. There was no one else near me. Once again, they were looking at me. I ignored those looks, for another time.

Sometimes it seems as if their eyes say: Who hangs out with her? It hurts me, I admit. But I did not let those things defeat me. I never stayed alone from fear that I will not be accepted. I have won my war. I found my strength in my family. Every morning my dad comes and kisses me on the cheek. "This is the most beautiful cheek in the world" - he says. He is my hero. He gives me strength. I notice that sometimes his tears drop when he sees me, but he turns his head around so that I don’t see him. I do the same.

Even my close friends support me unconditionally. Me, Megi and Erinda, we are inseparable. We share everything with each other. With them I am myself. Our friendship became even stronger after I was enrolled in the Child Protection Group of World Vision. I would see Megi going to meetings, and one day I asked her. She told me about it. Later, I was involved too. I had never thought I could become part of a group and fight for those problems that have persecuted me all my life. I want to fight against discrimination and prejudice! I want everyone to be happy!

When I see a person, who has a problem, even a small one, I do not pity him/her. Mercy is ugly. I've experienced it myself. But I did not allow them to destroy me. You know what I have done? I have talked to myself: Go forth! Everything will be ok! One day you will walk with your head up, throw you hair on the back and I will look as if nothing happened.

My dream will soon come true. I will go to Belgium and I will do the plastic surgeries I need. I need to do 4, and they cost a lot. But I am ready. And I'm not afraid, because I have the love and support of the people I love so much, the best people in the world."

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 (Matilda with her friends, Megi and Erinda).

The 15-year-old from Durres is a source of energy for anyone who is close to her and an inspiration for all those who like her have faced discrimination throughout their life. "Matilda gives me strength to have faith in myself. She used to cry on my shoulder, and today she talks about her dreams "- Erinda, her friend since first grade, says. Matilda has dreams and a lot of faith. She is determined to make them a reality without putting her head down or giving up. From the way she speaks and treats others, the 15-year-old seems as she is older. She even has a  message for all boys and girls: "Do not give up! Give yourself courage because nothing is impossible".

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