Ayaan Mohamed’s face was disfigured when she was shot as an infant during Somalia’s brutal civil war, but soon the young African woman will have ‘‘a face like everyone else’’.
The 25-year-old from Somaliland will have surgery in the Wesley Hospital in Brisbane on Saturday to rebuild her face, repairing wounds she suffered as an infant.
Mohamed flew to Brisbane with former Somaliland first lady Edna Adan Ismail with the help of two local Rotary clubs, who helped fund-raise and secure her visa.
‘‘She’s happy and looking forward to it,’’ Ismail said, translating for Mohamed.‘‘She’s happy to get her face back.
‘‘The hardest thing for her has always been when somebody asks 'what happened to your face?’
She said: ’It just hurts me’.’
Mohamed sat covered in a veil, with only her eyes showing, during a press conference at the hospital on Tuesday.
She prefers to keep her injuries hidden from view.
She fought back tears when asked to describe her ordeal.
Ismail, who founded the Edna Adan Hospital in Hargesia, where Mohamed first sought help as a teenager, said Mohamed was confident about the surgery.
‘‘She said she’s looking forward to ... having a face like everyone else.’’
Dr John Arvier, who will head the surgical team, said the operation should be relatively straightforward and would require tissue from the side of her face, skin from her forearm and a synthetic implant to cover a hole between her eye socket and jaw.
Mohamed was denied a medical visa last March.
But Immigration Minister Scott Morrison approved a second visa application, made in October, after he was petitioned by more than 40,000 people on her behalf.