Mihaela* was abandoned by her mother when she was just a baby in an orphanage. Her mother was unable to look after a baby. Mihaela struggled health wise for the first part of her life, often spending large amounts of time in hospital with various problems. She would become quite anxious and angry because of this and being unable to express herself so she would bite her hand for relief.
When Mihaela was 12 she was moved from the state-run orphanage to a home run by an NGO where finally for the first time in her life she could grow her hair, something that she is still very proud of, she was able to start education and have a few possessions that she could keep and clothes of her own rather than communal. She lived with her friends at the NGO until the age of 18 when she finished grade 8. If she had remained in state care this would have meant she would have been sent to an old people’s home for the rest of her life. But in 2007 she moved into a supported living house where she and 4 others live with the support of car workers. They are fully active in their daily lives, shopping, cooking, cleaning and doing daily chores at the NGO which oversees the house.
Mihaela would not have the quality of life she has now without this support, she is able to shop without being able to read or write, or understanding the notion of money with the support of workers and the local community. She loves spending her free time making jewellery, drawing and watching Turkish films. She understands everything even though she cannot read the subtitles or understand the Turkish.
*Names have been changed to protect this young person’s identity.