It broke her heart to see her frighteningly tiny infant cry, yet it was a joyous moment, for she now knew her daughter can hear. She had been sent home with her baby, a small bundle of joy she called Mirna. She was born with deformed hands and legs, weighing a heartbreaking half a kilogram, with physical issues that will make it difficult for her to live “normally”. Upon seeing her condition, the doctors told Mirna’s parents that she would not survive longer than a few days and that giving her a shot which would end her life was the solution. Mirna’s parents refused. This is when Mirna was taken home, fragile and helpless, by her parents. Her mother took her into her room, closed the door, and started screaming at her. The last thing a mother wants is to make her child cry, but Mirna’s mother had priorities, the first of which was to make sure her daughter’s senses are intact. Once she confirmed her little one can hear, she started waving her hands in front of Mirna’s eyes, and was relieved to see her daughter blinking! Mirna can see and hear! She tearfully told Mirna’s father.
“Thereafter, my long, bitter journey began. I had more than 10 surgeries done on my hands and legs, and stayed for a year in Russia without my parents,” Mirna tells, “when it was time for preschool, my father went to more than five schools to register me, but they all refused because of my disability.” Mirna was eventually accepted in a school called International College, affiliated with the American University in Beirut. Going to school was essential for Mirna’s development, but interacting with strangers on a daily basis was extremely difficult.
“I heard cruel things spoken about me while walking down the street, things which hurt my feelings and made me stay at home and not mingle with others”.
Every night I cried and wished to die a thousand times.” Mirna tells. In High School, her teacher noticed her depression, and advised her to see a therapist; she refused. After graduating, she enrolled in the Lebanese American University and was the first student in her school to join this university. Yet, due to the bullying she faced, she ended up isolating herself, “I stayed home for a whole year, doing nothing but crying. Sadness dominated my heart, and I lost hope in life.” She explains. One night, in a surge of positive energy, she decided to go to a psychologist, “I promised my mother that I will never give up and that I will be stronger than this backward society. The next day I went to a therapist and started having sessions that only my parents knew about, and started to improve!” She recalls.
She returned to university, and studied Neuro-Linguistic Programming, “it improved my confidence, and changed my negative view to a positive one,” she explains, “then I studied Preschool Education and graduated with distinction. I also studied English Education and Psychology.” One achievement after another, Mirna was finally showing her true potential, and it gave her strength, “I cannot forget the support of my teachers, yet despite my success some people could not appreciate my efforts and continued to be cruel to me, but I no longer cared about their words.” Mirna says.
Although it is now behind her, Mirna’s struggle was not only an internal one. As bullying had a dark impact on her mental state, “we can overcome bullying by giving parents awareness sessions about its negative effects. Schools also should organize sessions about this topic.” She says. It is truly frightening to think that bullying might have deprived the world of a person as full of life as Mirna, “I could have committed suicide, but thank God that my will stopped me and made me change myself.” She tells. However, having such great understanding of these topics will help her, as she wants to get a Ph.D. in Child Psychology and open a small center for psychological consultations.
Mirna now works within NGOs, including IECD. She is a psychological trainer and gives awareness sessions for parents and children, as well as psychological treatment. She also works at the National Foundation for Social Welfare and Vocational Training as a special educator, and finally as a psychologist and life skill trainer at Amel International Association.
Mirna’s inspiring story could not have happened if it was not for the real-life superheroes who supported her; starting with her passionate mother, who screamed and fought for her daughter, “she never left me and kept telling me that I am not different from others and that I can overcome my disability,” she recalls. There were also others, “I have a friend, Amal, who stayed with me until today, always motivating and supporting me,” she continues, “and my psychologist, Ahmed Yusuf, who helped me overcome my depression and accept my body.” One cannot think of anyone who would not be inspired by Mirna’s tale, by her perseverance despite the harshness the world has shown her, as well as by the beautiful souls who nurtured her and gave her reasons to continue until she blossomed into the inspiring superwoman she is.