Mabinty Bangura loved her family dearly. Born in Sierra Leone, her mother and father adored her and were sweet to her. Despite the poverty in which they lived and the war crimes that enveloped their community, the girl appreciated her good fortune. Then tragedy struck. Many men in the village were killed by war rebels. Even worse, her mother died soon after of an untreated medical condition. The girl’s unfriendly uncle then delivered her to the doorstep of an orphanage. 

There, Mabinty met Mabinty, and they become the best of friends.

Mabinty Suma took Mabinty Bangura under her wing at the facility. The two friends played together, and they invited others into their games. The aunties who cared for them were cruel to the kids, though. One of the aunties forced a younger child to urinate on Mabinty’s face while she was sleeping. She awoke sputtering and gagging. War surrounded the kids’ daily lives; it constantly made its presence known, and it was a reality that was impossible to forget. One day, Teacher Sarah seemed nervous about the perilous walk home. However, she convinced Mabinty that she would be fine. The young girl then watched as war rebels murdered her teacher in front of her.

The guiding light of all of the kids in the orphanage was that they were going to America to live with families. They received “family books” that had photographs of their parents, siblings, pets and explanations of what their lives would be like there. Except… Mabinty did not receive a family book. M. Suma said that maybe she could join her family. Unbelievably enough, that is exactly what ended up happening.

Elaine and Charles DePrince adopted Mabinty and Mabinty, soon to be renamed Mia and Michaela. Michaela had wanted to dance ever since she saw an elegant ballerina on the cover of a dance magazine in Sierra Leone. In Pennsylvania, her dream came true. She and Mia took tap and ballet lessons. While Mia gravitated towards tap and music, Michaela was entranced with the elegance of ballet. The young girl longed to dance on her tippy toes, and one day that opportunity presented itself. Michaela was thrilled to try on her first pair of pointe shoes. The rest is history.

Taking flight: From War Orphan To Star Ballerina by Michaela DePrince, 2014

I loved this story of a young woman who went through so much and cheated death so many times. She is an amazing woman and a fantastic ballerina.

Books about dance

Michaela DePrince’s web site