Meet our Ambassador - Michaela DePrince
Michaela DePrince is a globally renowned ballerina and a War Child Ambassador. She experienced armed conflict first-hand as a child growing up in the midst of the civil war in Sierra Leone. Michaela has collaborated with megastars including Beyoncé and Madonna - and continues to pursue her dreams today…
You escaped the war in Sierra Leone when you were aged just four - what are your memories of that time?
“Unfortunately, I have many bad memories of my childhood due to the devastating war in my home country. I saw so much terror and violence. I lost both my parents, so I had to grow up in an orphanage in which I felt excluded because of my skin condition called vitiligo. But, despite the difficult circumstances, I stayed strong and kept on dreaming about a better and more joyful future.”
You have visited Lebanon and Uganda as a War Child Ambassador. What strikes you most vividly when you meet the children in our programmes?
“It strikes me that I often see part of myself in the children I meet. Despite the often traumatic events they have gone through, they are full of big plans for their future. It makes me so happy to see them smiling while sharing their dreams with me. I often share my own story to convince them there will be a more peaceful future for them.”
You have performed dance recitals together with the children in our projects. How does dance and movement improve their lives?
“I’m very happy that War Child makes use of dance, music and movement. Dance builds a connection between children. It’s a perfect way for them to express and control their emotions. Often it’s easier and better to deal with your experiences in a more creative way than to talk about it. It makes children feel more comfortable and relaxed.”
What similarities are there between the children in our projects today and the four-year-old girl you once were?
“The cruel things we had to see. The fact that we have lost many loved ones. We both know how it is to live in uncertainty. A child should not be part of war, ever. So I’m really proud to be part of the War Child family and to do whatever helps the children we work for.”
What message do you want to share about the work of War Child?
“I had always wanted an organisation like War Child to be present when I was once that little girl. I was desperately looking for a safe space like the ones War Child offers to so many children affected by war. And it’s fascinating how we adopt modern technology - like education on tablets - to provide them with better chances.”