A RUSSIAN woman who suffered horrific burns in a house fire was put in a "freak show display" to raise cash for her hard-up gran.
Anya Boldyreva effectively lost her face when a fire ravaged her family home when she was just seven months old.
Horrifically scarred, Anya was sent to an orphanage and spent several years in various homes until her grandparents came and took her to live with them.
Russian website Lenta explains that Anya's mum was an alcoholic, and when the family house caught fire, no one took the baby's crib out to try and rescue her.
"She drank heavily. Often we didn't have any food," Anya said of her mum.
Lenta writess: "As a child, she was badly burned – she practically lost her face.
"Because of this, all her life she has been haunted by insults, bullying and cruelty, but she found the strength to live, forgive [those who are cruel to her] and seek love."
Anya, now aged 30, told Newsflash: “My grandparents took good care of me, living with them was good."
But with her family so poor, they struggled to survive.
Anya added: "My grandmother and I always travelled around cities.
"She showed my burned face to people for cash. This was our only way of making money back then.”
Anya admitted that she was so conscious of her appearance that she had once tried to kill herself, after years of bullying from classmates.
She was cruelly taunted as a "monster, Frankenstein, and faceless girl" by heartless kids.
Anya recalled of her tormentors, "at first I did not understand what was wrong with my face", but the bullying was so unbearable that she was forced to drop out of school after completing just two years.
But she has great memories of the orphanages which looked after her, before her granny took her back.
In one home, a worried director kept a bedside vigil when she contracted chickenpox.
Anya said: “While I was waiting at a train station with my grandmother one day, I saw another girl with a burned face like mine.
“We talked and I asked her how she got her injuries. The girl was electrocuted. To me, her face looked worse than mine. That day, I realised I was not alone.”
Anya has an 11-year-old daughter, Dasha, who "is used to my face", she said.
Anya told Lenta that as a result of her daughter's birth, "I even began to learn to love myself".
She also dotes on her second husband Alexey, a local farmer, despite the family barely having enough money for food and clothes.
"My husband says that he loved me because I have a beautiful soul," she said.
And after surviving so much trauma, Anya says she has one main goal – to undergo plastic surgery. But the family can't afford the specialist operation.
They're also moving home.
In February this year, their house burst into flames due to an electrical fault and they lost most of their personal belongings.
But all three escaped unharmed.
Despite all she's been through, a positive Anya said she saw the fire as a sign to move on from the small village of Zhuravka in the Russian region of Voronezh.
Anya added: “I will soon go for a free operation in Moscow, but I need money for rehabilitation.
"A TV show promised to help me get a visa to go to the US and have an operation there, but it never happened.”
Anya has been unable to study at university or "even get a job; I have accepted I will never be chosen for any jobs because of my appearance.”
The family is now looking for a new home in a larger town where they hope to be able to turn around their fortunes.
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