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Stronger than war: orphaned child from Sierra Leone becomes professional ballerina

Born in Sierra Leone, Michaela DePrince was only 3-years-old when both her parents died. The war-torn country of Sierra Leone was in the midst of a civil war and Michaela, who was born with a skin disease called vitiligo, was left alone in an orphanage.

“In the orphanage, we were ranked from number one to 27. Number one meant you were the favorite child of the orphanage, and 27 meant you were the least favorite. And because of the way I looked, I was the least favorite,” said DePrince.

But the orphanage gave her one very important thing – a photo of a ballerina she had found around orphanage grounds.

“She was my inspiration. She was everything that I dreamt of being, just my hope, my light. She pretty much saved me, and so I wanted to be her,” said DePrince.

Michaela was adopted by New Jersey couple Elaine and Charles DePrince. THe 19-year-old is now a member of the Dutch National Ballet Company. She and her mother Elaine are the authors of a book entitled “Taking Flight,” which will be available to buy on October 14th.

“This book is just about hope and it’s about family. It’s about dreaming,” said DePrince.

Credit: Jessica Blank