My name is Mariela and I’m fifteen years old. Throughout the age of 0-4 I really don’t remember much, but my mom says that I was a very outgoing fun toddler. I don’t have many memories of my early childhood, but clear memories formed at age 5 when I was in a terrible fire accident. Some may say that small kids don’t remember much at that young age, but because this incident changed my life I remember it so vividly. That type of huge impact doesn’t let you forget. We had been staying in Mexico and my parents left me and my sisters with my grandma for the day. We went out to my aunt’s property and since there was lots of trash they decided to burn it. We were there for a while so we decided to help. I was standing by the fire next to my sister. The elders had turned their back on us. That’s when a semi empty flammable jar of glue caught on fire and exploded on me. The next thing I remember I was yelling, screaming, and running as my body was in flames. I felt an unbearable pain that made me go into shock. My aunt patted me down and I could see everyone’s look of disbelief, as they tried to rush me to the hospital. While, I was in the car I felt cold and saw my skin. My skin looked like black coal and smelled like smoke. I was crying and panicking as we sped to the hospital. As I was put into the hands of the nurse I could see my grandma and aunt crying by the door. The nurses carefully cut and peeled off the clothes, that had mixed with my skin. The next thing I knew I was asleep. When I woke up I couldn’t see. I could only hear my parents and the nurses, as they walked in to check up on me. I hadn’t realized I had been transferred by helicopter to Shriners Hospital.
The next three months of my life were spent in a hospital bed. I couldn’t walk, see, or eat, so I had to be fed by a tube. I’d cry all the time because I was in constant pain, but sometimes I was scared; scared of the sounds I would hear around me. I would sleep most of the time and when I would take showers I remember screaming and crying because of the way the soap and shampoo burned my raw skin. I had to slowly gain my strength back through therapy sessions. I would sometimes leave the room with my mom and I would see all the other kids. At the time I didn’t know how lucky I was that the explosion wasn’t as severe as it could have been. There were kids without limbs having to constantly be fed with tubes, some had their eyes permanently shut, others had no hair. Being there showed me that everyone goes through painful tests, some just more than others.
When I was finally ready to leave I looked completely different but, being in the hospital taught me that appearances shouldn’t matter even if I had to wear compression suits and masks. Going back to school was difficult for me. I slowly realized that I was different than others. I couldn’t do much and had to stay inside away from where I could get hurt. I also had to learn how to deal with the stares people gave me. Although this made me feel bad and realize life would take more effort, I’m willing to put in the extra work to achieve my goals. I learned how to grow stronger and overcome problems because of it. I wouldn’t lie and say this accident doesn’t affect me that much anymore because, it does. I miss a lot of school and I’m frequently away from my family and friends, leaving for medical appointments in Sacramento. As a result, I have to work harder to catch up with school work but, it makes me realize that if you really want something you will work as hard as you need to achieve it.
All the problems I have overcome have helped me to focus on education because I know how important it is to be somebody in life. When I graduate I want to go to college to become a surgeon. I want to work in the medical field because I want to help others. I want to be able to help people who are in my position. I want to have a positive impact in people’s lives and being a surgeon will allow me to do that. A life goal I have is to help out my family. I want to give back to my mom by graduating, going to college, and being someone successful. My parents never went to college so it would make them extremely proud to see me graduate despite my circumstances. I also want to be a role model for my younger cousins. I want to teach them that if you set your mind to something and work hard, there is no reason you can’t achieve your goals.
I would use the sponsorship money to help me with school. I would buy things that would benefit my education such as, a graphing calculator for my math class or a laptop to do my homework on. I want to take classes at Palomar College this summer and the sponsorship money would help me accomplish this. I would also use the sponsorship money to get a printer. Since my printer doesn’t work I use the library’s printer. Having my own printer would help me because I need it for my schoolwork and projects. Overall, I feel so grateful and blessed to have received this opportunity and to get a chance to share my story.
If you would like to help Mariela achieve her dreams please click on the link below.