The Burns Were Bad Enough, But The Discrimination They Encountered Later Was Even Worse

When I realized what I was looking at in the very first shot of this video, I gasped. The young women in this video have all had their lives changed by accidents resulting in burns. As I heard one heartbreaking story after another, my eyes teared up, as anyone’s would.

But having seen this whole video, and the physical and emotional journeys these girls went on together as part of their healing process, I don't think "heartbreaking" is the right word for their stories. And their hearts are most definitely not broken. Just see for yourself.

Warning: This video contains graphic imagery.

Transcript:
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[music]

Their survivals have been called miracles. The house fire, car crash...
It was raining outside and I hydroplaned when I was going to pass a truck.

Science experiment gone wrong and a creative art project.

At first I thought it was just a fire you could just you know, brush off and then next thing I knew, it was already in my face so I was screaming for my dog and [crying] I...

These accidents forever changed the lives of these girls and although the physical scars are easy to see, the scars inside are harder to face.
Did you remember the first night...?

That's why Lisa Cartelli founded "Angel Faces," a unique non-profit for girls with severe burns or trauma.

I was burned in a natural gas explosion at my grandparents home when I was nine years old. The home was destroyed.

Lisa has transformed her own pain into healing. She's a role model for young women dealing with painful scars

I wanted the girls to have what I knew they needed, what I knew, it took me 20 years to fumble through, to get to a good healing place and I knew I could offer it to them.

Using her life lessons, these young women to open up, to trust, and discover their strength and beauty.

What really rocked my world and stumped me out in public when I didn't know what to say, as somebody would say to me, "How did you burn yourself? What did you do to yourself?" And I was like, "I didn't ask for this. Those girls didn't ask for that."

Weirdos, Crusty Crab, ugly, burnt toast, burnt girl, Freddy Krueger's daughter, burnt cookie, burnt, scarface, freak, weirdo, Mutant, snakeskin...

I've been called Freddy Kruger, I've been called Scarface, and like I sometimes feel at school I'm known as the Burned Girl, the girl with the scars and stuff that's how I feel I'm known as sometimes.

The girls express their sensitivity, stress, shame, and sadness when they're called names, but here they're empowered with tools to face their struggle.

This is beautiful. Do you see what she's doing? Do you see what she's doing? [laughs] She took control and she changed the subject. She took it off of her.

Today, we did the unwanted questions and staring and teasing and I've always had a hard time with the staring, but Lisa got me in front of everybody when I didn't really want to and she taught us how to stand tall and I think that's really going to help me.

I did have someone say, "Oh you're the burned girl right?" And like I understand what Lisa was saying how it's like, "No, I'm not the burned girl, I'm just a girl that got burned."

From intense workshops, to written and artistic expression, the activities are designed to promote healing and make them feel like a typical teenage girl.

Give me a big smile. I want her to smile. I want to hit the apple of the cheek.
By enhancing their beauty, smiles of confidence re-emerge.
I'm 17 and I've never been kissed you know. And not be self-conscious anymore.

There's comfort just being with others facing the same challenges.

What I like about "Angel Faces," every one of us has facial burns on our faces.

Friendships are formed and experiences are shared.

[Crying] I get so emotional because it was so horrible on my family. I feel like it was, in a way, harder on my family than it was for me.

They often have to carry their own pain, not wanting their loved ones to pay a price.

You don't want to go home and tell them about how rough of a day you had just to protect them. You don't want them to go through anymore pain along with you.

The financial burden is also difficult, paying for surgery after surgery. That's why "Angel Faces" raises money through fundraisers and private donations, so nothing stands in the girl's way to come and heal.

It's the partnering we need, it's the corporate partnerships, it's the sponsors, it's the financial side because what happens after the retreat is, we hit the ground running again to raise money for the next retreat.

Lisa would you join us up here please.

"Angel Faces" has achieved national recognition on the "Dr. Phil Show."

My life changed a lot after I came to "Angel Faces," got to hear Lisa's story.

Numerous publications.

Lisa Cartelli has been to Hell and back...

]And on CNN...

I want to hear from you girls. Just bring it on.

I want you all to forget about what's happened this morning that got you here.
The program focuses on the whole girl, starting with yoga every morning, working on the mind, heart and spirit.

Inhale, exhale.

Girls leave the retreat with skills and tools to create the life they want.

Just so much more self worth and a greater self-esteem. I was just very low, kind of down on myself and the way I thought of myself before "Angel Faces," and just learning my own power and the beauty that everybody has has really just, it was just an awesome thing to learn and really apply in my life.

If I could go back and do it again I wouldn't change it.
Why is that?

I guess now, one I understand people better and I know I have an inner strength inside of me and I know I have a big purpose now.

Lisa's program is dramatically changing the lives of young girls with disfigurement and with tragedy has taken from these girls, time spent with "Angel Faces" can begin giving back.

I often try and teach them that their injury is a gift and not many people on this planet are chosen with that gift. And in the beginning some of them go, "I don't think this is a gift you know it's horrible, oh my God," but after a couple of days when they start to go deeper and they realize the skills and the power that they have that they can use for the good, they start to see the gift.

[Music]

This is a life changing experience on a very deep level and those 25 girls go home and they affect the people in all of their areas. So it's not 20 to 25 girls, it's thousands.

[Singing]

There may be small errors in this transcript.
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This moving video was produced by Angel Faces, an organization that provides love and guidance to young women struggling with visible burn injuries.

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