Despite being bullied because of her physical appearance, Nia is full of joy and changing the way her community cares for others.
The Indonesian girl, whose full name is Karunia, was born without fingers and toes, a rare congenital condition called Apert Syndrome that makes her look different.
“There are some who bully Nia,” Chandra, her father, told Compassion Australia. “They mock her by saying, ‘Hey, look, it’s Nia, the deformed girl’.”
But she finds hope in what her dad, a farmer in East Indonesia, tells her.
“’You are God’s gift’,” he firmly tells her. “When they bully you, you can say that you are God’s gift and not a creation of any man.”
When Nia was born, her parents were grateful to God but didn't know what to do and how best to take care of her.
"I just cried and wondered why God had entrusted this to me,” says Angelina, Nia's mother.
Nia endured a lot of pain, high fevers and, sometimes, she struggled to breathe with the condition that doesn't have a cure--not to mention the stares and fearful looks people in the small community gave the little girl.
With little education, and struggling to care for Nia, who needed specialized care, the desperate couple registered their baby girl into a program with Compassion International, which helped give her regular medical checkups and get funds for surgery to give Nia fingers on her right hand.
“I started to feel strong,” says Angelina. “I told my husband that I love her even more than if I had a healthy child without disabilities. It is because of the strength of God.”
Nia with her parents, Chandra and Angelina. They received a lot of help from their church and Compassion Australia in caring for their daughter with special needs.
Eventually, Nia was old enough and healthy enough to start the Child Sponsorship Program offered by Compassion, and while she's learning, she's also teaching others about self-acceptance and how to combat bullying.
“I am beautiful like my mother,” she says. “When my friends mocked me because I don’t have normal fingers, my mom taught me to say back to them that this is what Jesus gave me.”