My name is Faith – the girl with the scars.

161003_Idecide=Iam_Peru_printHello! My name is Faith. I do not remember my family name. But if I could choose a new one, it would have been Faith Filipova (in translation from Greek – “the faith that loves horses”).

This text is a compilation of true facts, events and personal stories of participants of the Next Step Program, implemented by Bulgarian Center for Not-for-Profit Law (BCNL) and partners.

Written by Aylin Yumerova. 

My first scar came with my birth – it was made by the doctor who helped me to be born. Later on I was marked by the pediatrician to whom I was taken by my mom any time I started to choke and cough. During the very first visit to the pediatrician’s cabinet, d-r Mulekov noticed that there is something wrong with me – I was intellectually retard. He was obliged to tell the unhappy news to my mom. I was diagnosed – instead of a person with name I became “a person with intellectual deficiency”. And since then the real trouble began.

My father had a hard time overcoming the shame to have a child that was an “idiot”. This was how everybody called me since I was seven years old. I used more interjections than it is normal for a child at my age. Rarely my mom took me for a walk because she was afraid that somebody will start talking to her; will ask about me and she will meet only eyes full of pity, shot as fireworks at her or at me. Only my grandma Nusha had the courage to embrace me with her unconditional love. She always knew when and what I craved for – she could see in my eyes the desires I had. She was also proud to tell the neighbors what a good girl I was in fact.

One day I had the crazy idea to get out of home alone. I was 9. My everyday regime and the gloomy atmosphere in our small apartment, had suffocated me. I was craving to breathe the fresh air on the street, to play with the kids from the neighborhood, to jump and play with a ball like them. My father who was just coming back from work, saw me to stay bending in from of the entrance of the block, surrounded by other kids who mocked at me throwing pebbles at me, got mad and cursing at me pulled me out of the swamp of the children’s ridicules. Later he beat me because he was angry and I did not dare to get out of bed for a pretty long time. I did not want the scars on my body to be seen.

The I decide = I am arts project is inspired on testimonies of persons with intellectual disabilities under guardianship.

When I heard the school bell for the first time, I was already 19 years old. If I was born “normal”, now I would have been graduating from the high school. But when the crash had happened I had not started even second grade.

Daddy, mommy, grandma, my little brother and I were travelling to the only high school in my hometown to celebrate Goshko’s first day at school. A truck came upon us and caused a chain crash. Only my daddy who was driving the car had survived and for his utmost disappointment – I was also alive. It took him very long time to forgive me.

At the age of 21 I felt in love. It happened one afternoon when my father was sleeping after his night shift and I decided to use this opportunity. I quietly got out of home. I was walking around and I did not understand why I was attracting all the looks of people on the street. I did not hurt anybody, but yet it was only the faces of disgust that were turning after me. I decided to have a break and to sit on a bench in the park. Soon after that, a young man sat next to me and asked me how old I was. I knew that I was 21 but at that moment I remembered the cake that daddy had bought for my birthday some days ago. I counted 26 candles. Somebody had wrongly calculated my age.

We secretly continued to meet with my beloved in the park. Once he asked me to draw something for him on a white paper. After that he wanted to see my picture on my ID card. My grandma had told me to carry it always, on a sting around my neck. I gave it to him. After that day I have never seen him again. When my daddy found out that I had mortgaged my inherited property, he had almost beaten me to death. When I put myself together again, for the first time in my life I heard the word “guardianship”. It turned out that I was “married” to it and nobody wished to get know what was my real will. They made me stand in front of a judge, instead of in front of the mayor who performs the marriage ceremony.  The first question that I was asked was if I knew how to count. Of course I could – grandma Nusha had taught me of that. I could also calculate numbers, I knew poems by heart. I read books, but slower. The judge asked me many times about simple things from my life but I did not dare to say a word. I was quiet. I knew the consequences – daddy would be angry and would get drunk again. After that I would have get new bruises, new scars.

The next scar (I had stopped counting them) appeared from the phrase of two words “full guardianship”. And here I am – being for whole 15 years in the Home for adults with intellectual disabilities, in the village of Rusokastro. Surrounded by people who are 40 years older than I am; lost in the monotony of the strictly planned days, I have the feeling that I am losing my senses. My life also started to lose its meaning. The only friends that I had at the Home were the flowers in my room. Only with them I was able to share that I was shivering at night, how humiliating for me was to wear the old clothes of the old women who used to live there, to bathe once in three weeks and to feel the smell of my dirty hair. I could not understand why the care-givers from the personnel were constantly yelling at us. The fact that they could not understand what we were saying was not our fault. I did not trust anybody except Aunt Dora. She had a big heart and reminded me of my grandma – they both treated me as a human being with dignity who has not only physical, but also spiritual needs.

Today, at age 45, I already feel old. I was abandoned not by my mind, but by my father. My life at the institution was marked by several unsuccessful attempts to escape. Nobody believed me that I could cope with my life on my own – that I can buy a pie and in the same way I can deal with family issues. I became a hostage of a piece of paper holding the title “Medical Expertise”. And that word from the past had always held me back. My freedom was put under guardianship …

Goodbye! My name was Faith – the girl with the scars. And this was another day when the horses of salvation did not come …


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