How the boy dubbed the real-life Mowgli was given a new lease on life

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Zanziman Ellie used to flee into the forest to escape bullies – now he’s been given a chance to learn and grow. (Photo: ASIA WIRE/MAGAZINEFEATURES.CO.ZA)
Zanziman Ellie used to flee into the forest to escape bullies – now he’s been given a chance to learn and grow. (Photo: ASIA WIRE/MAGAZINEFEATURES.CO.ZA)

The forest has always been his safe space. There, among the soaring trees, dense foliage and cool glades, he’s found refuge from the taunts and torments he’s been subjected to all his life.

Zanziman Ellie doesn’t look like other people. He has an abnormally small head and his ears are large. His face is unusual and he doesn’t speak. People call him an ape and a monkey.

The Rwandan-born 22-year-old was born with microcephaly, a condition that manifests in an underdeveloped head. Zanziman has lived much of his life as a recluse in the forest, hiding from the villagers who bullied him.

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