Born Mabinty Bangura in 1995, Michaela DePrince had many identities. One of them was “devil’s child” thanks to her vitiligo. Michaela grew up as an orphan in Sierra Leone during the civil war. Her life was difficult from the start, with her father killed by militant rebels and her mother dying of starvation. Frequently malnourished, mistreated and derided, life only got worse when she had to flee to a refugee camp after her orphanage was bombed.
In 1999 at the age of four, an American family adopted Michaela. Inspired by a picture she found in Sierra Leone, Michaela began to train in ballet. Her dream was to look as happy as the woman in the picture. It was only after many years of hard work and perseverance that Michaela’s dream came true. She was finally happy.
The story of De Prince is one of hard work, suffering, heartache and loss, but it’s also one of achievement, love, joy and daring to dream. Through her story she wants to encourage young people to aspire to a dream. Her message is loud and clear: Make your talent a part of your dream, and dare to make love a part of your life. Never be afraid of living and never be afraid of loving.