For the past 12 years, Heldi Jaralomi has spent her days hiding away from the world after a horrific childhood accident left her disfigured.
After being burnt by an exploding oil lamp in her small town in West Timor, the then 12-year-old was brought home after two days in hospital because her family could not afford treatment. Without medical care, Heldi was left with her chin and lip fused to her chest.
But now the 24-year-old has undergone an incredible transformation thanks to the generosity of strangers. Perth charity, the John Fawcett Foundation, raised money for her to come to Western Australia for treatment where she underwent a nine-hour operation.
Heldi's doctors, including plastic surgeon Dr Tim Cooper, all gave up their time to perform the risky surgery.
'I’d never really left my village before. It’s been very overwhelming,' Heldi told The West Australian, through an interpreter.
I just want to be like a normal person. I’m going to make sure I don’t hide anymore.'
Dr Cooper said that while Heldi was both physically and mentally scared by her ordeal, she now seemed like a whole new person.
'She’s become animated. She wants to put lipstick on her lips. She’s never had a boyfriend. She didn’t finish school. She was stuck in the kitchen at home. She was locked into a life of poverty,' Dr Cooper told The West Australian.
'I'm just blown away.'