Post courtesy of Mirror.co.uk
Location: Walsall, West Midlands, England
Date Of Injury: March 2011
A burn victim has forgiven her stepmum for starting the blaze that killed her dad and left her needing to have both legs amputated.
Josefina Vilela was 14 years old when she suffered horrific 60% burns in the terrifying blaze sparked by evil stepmum Georgina.
Her beloved dad Carlos, 45, died after she poured petrol over him as he lay in bed and ignited it because she thought he was cheating on her.
The flames tore through the family home in Walsall, West Mids – where Josefina and her three sisters were fast asleep.
Josefina spent 18 months in hospital recovering from her devastating injuries, which also included having part of her left arm amputated.
But despite the horrific ordeal, she has incredibly forgiven Georgina – who was later jailed for a minimum of 23 years.
“I feel sorry for her,” said Josefina, now 17. “She destroyed her own life, I’ve moved on with mine. I hold no grudge against her.
“She has claimed the life of a man who was dearest to me but I forgive her.
“Although she took a very special person away from me, my dad, I don’t want to lose a second’s happiness by hating her.
“She has lost everything including her freedom and her family but I have the love of my sisters and that is all that matters.”
Georgina, originally from Guineu-Bissau, started the blaze in March 2011 after finding out he had apparently fathered a love-child.
She bought a plastic container and filled it with five litres of petrol before pouring some of it over her husband and setting him alight.
Georgina, who is HIV-positive, then left the property and watched as neighbours and emergency services battled to rescue Carlos and his daughters.
She was convicted of murder and arson with intent to endanger life at Wolverhampton Crown Court in 2012 and caged for life.
Judge John Warner told her: “You killed your husband in the most horrific way by throwing petrol on him from the container you bought in the week before the murder.
“You set fire to him on the bed you and he shared. It was a very serious fire. Your four stepdaughters were in the house at the time and you knew it.”
Josefina – who has no memory of the blaze – spoke publicly for the first time on Tuesday when she met the five firefighters who saved her life.
The meeting was arranged as a surprise by her three sisters – who all escaped the blaze by jumping out of a first floor bedroom window.
“I’ve been wanting to meet these men ever since the night of the fire to tell them how amazing they are,” she said.
“They saved my life. They are my heroes.”
Firefighter Rob Hamer, who went into the house to save Josefina, said the blaze was the fiercest he had even encountered.
“That night sticks in the memory for all of us and is probably the worst house fire we’ve ever attended,” he said.
“Josefina was wrapped in a duvet when we found her. You couldn’t tell how bad her burns were at the time.
“Our main priority was to get her breathing again. She’s made a fantastic recovery. It’s just wonderful to see her here with a huge smile on her face.”
Despite missing out on large parts of her education, Josefina achieved five GCSEs and is starting a sport course at Walsall College in September.
The brave teen, who runs, swims, throws the javelin and plays wheelchair basketball, hopes to compete in the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.
“I want to inspire children and show them there is light at the end of the tunnel despite their disabilities,” she said.
“I love swimming and enjoy competing in javelin and running.
“I think Rio in 2016 is a bit too soon for me, but I am aiming to represent Great Britain in athletics in the Paralympics in 2020.
“I don’t really think about the negative side of what has happened to me. I am so glad to be alive and I just channel everything into the positive.
“I want to show people that, no matter what happens to you in life, you can go on and achieve things and live life to the full.”