“Born Different” is a documentary created with a burning passion to correct the impression a lot of people have about people living with Neurofibromatosis.
I stumbled on Grace Okhimhe’s story in 2019. She attended a job interview with high hopes that she will land the job. Unfortunately for her, she was walked out of the interview. They probably couldn’t stand a lady who has lots of tumors on her skin.
Frustrated and angry at the stigmatization that keeps coming from every corner in the society, Grace took to her Facebook page and shared the bitter experience. A lot of news platforms carried the news too. She is physically fit, academically sound, so why will she keep being treated as though she does not matter?
I read that story and the first thing that came to my mind was, “Ann, make a documentary about this condition”. Perhaps people treated her and everyone else with this condition with much disregard out of ignorance. They don’t know about Neurofibromatosis and probably think they might develop tumors on their skin too if they try to come close.
Come to think of it, I never knew about the condition until I read Grace’s story. I’d like to call whatever inspiration I had to make this documentary “Divine” because it was spontaneous. I never thought I will make a documentary so soon in my filmmaking career.
But I wanted to create awareness, “That NF is just a skin disorder and not contagious”. “People living with the condition should not be denied opportunities. They are more than the tumors on their skin”. There is no much discussion around this issue and that’s why the society discriminates against them.
In the documentary, “Born different”, Grace Okhimhe, talked about her struggles living with neurofibromatosis– the stigma and humiliation she faces daily and how she was able to build her self esteem regardless.
Her mother, Rita Okhimhe, also opened up on how traumatic having a daughter with NF has been. While interviewing her, she hoped God will at least transfer the tumors to her so the daughter can live a normal life. She also talked about how the condition has affected Grace’s love life and career. No one sees past the tumors on her skin and gives her a chance at least.
This story is not just Grace’s story but everyone living with Neurofibromatosis. The stigmatization and humiliation they face daily are traumatic. It’s not easy being insecure about your skin. You might think they are in the minority but they are everywhere – the street, market, churches. Their insecurities make them hide from the world.
Honestly, these people deserve all love and kindness the world has to offer. Never their fault that they were born different. Since there is currently no treatment for the condition, it’s best if we accept them the way they are. Don’t make them stand in front of the mirror and question their existence. In Grace’s word, “Embrace them with love because that is the greatest gift you are giving them”.
Born Different also features one of Grace’s friend, “Awele”. In my opinion, I’d say we all deserve a friend like her. Watch the documentary to find out how she became friends with Grace and how the experience has been.
I look forward to having more of this conversation in the future. The same energy channeled in creating awareness on autism and other disorders is the same energy we should channel to Neurofibromatosis. The more we talk about the condition; victims will face less or zero stigmas and discrimination from the society.
Take your time and watch the documentary, “Born Different” below. Feedbacks will be appreciated. Spread the word too. Together, we can amplify the voices of those living with NF.