Hi everyone, I’m Merve D. from Turkey. I’m 18 and about to graduate from high school. I’m going tell you my story and it has two parts: dark days and bright days. I’d been an outgoing child until I started elementary school. I didn’t even know I had albinism. It was normal to have white hair and it felt like I had 20/20 vision. Everything changed at elementary school. I couldn’t see blackboard. I couldn’t run as fast as the others could. I was the girl with white hair at that part of my life. I was always told I couldn’t do sports , study medicine , ride a bike etc because of my visual impairment. I was convinced that I didn’t have the capacity to achieve anything. I know lots of people with albinism can relate to that feeling. I was broken. I lost my confidence and self-respect. I don’t like that part of my story so let’s talk about the bright days.
By the time I started high school , my life completely changed in a positive way. I started high school as the top scoring student. I wasn’t the “weird girl” anymore. It was so interesting that my teachers knew about my dark days before I told them. They always told me I was a wise girl at the age of 14 and it meant a lot. I had a lot of perfect friends who have always supported me and encouraged me to try to do things I was convinced I couldn’t do. I started to walk holding my head up. I started to deal with history , politics and human rights! And these studies gave me a big confidence. I’m not going to lie , I read my first book at age of 15. It was a huge joy to discover the world and my capacity to achieve!
Today I’m about to graduate from high school as the top scoring student. I had an exam for the university 3 months ago and I have one of the best scores in Turkey. It means a lot to me because it’s not just about academics. There’s a girl with albinism who has achieved more than even the others can imagine. I plan to study psychology and I always want to support children and teenagers who have any kind of disability.
Today is brighter than I ever thought! I stand up for our rights! I gave a speech to my teachers and friends about living with a disability. Today I’m not embarrassed to announce that I have albinism. I embrace my white hair. I enjoy traveling with my cane independently. All people are going to see is a confident and a happy girl when they look at me! And I just want all of you to know you can achieve anything you put your mind to do. Do not care the people around you who have no idea about albinism. Just know you can and always stand up for yourself otherwise you’re going to waste your time…
P.S: I want to thank my teachers and friends who have read books for me , who have sent me lecture notes as audios and who have promised to teach me how to play volleyball! I will never forget my teachers reminding me I can do anything every single moment. Thank you!