Welcome to the post about what Mercy Ships actually does.
“Enough of Kyle’s feelings!” You called. “We want cute little girls who can finally walk after years of bow legs!”
Well ladies and gentleman, it’s the post you’ve been waiting for.
Grace: 17 year old female
Surgery Type: MaxFax. Which basically means removal of a giant tumor on her face.
Wowzers. Let’s get another look at that. Click the picture to make it bigger. Or move really close to the computer screen.
Grace is from the Democratic Republic of Congo. When her pastor found out Mercy Ships was going to be in the Republic of Congo (which though only physically separated by a river is realistically so difficult to get into that it’s essentially another world) he scraped together as much as he could from all corners of his world and made sure she made it to the ship. Grace’s father had recently died and there was no one else to help her. When her pastor showed her a pictures of previous patients with tumors that Mercy Ships had healed it was the first time that she had ever seen anyone else with a condition similar to hers.
It was a long process but when Mercy Ships arrived she was the first patient up the gangway to have surgery.
Lucky she did too, because without surgery she would have died. People with tumors her size eventually suffer from total airway obstruction or starvation from simply not being able to eat. It is a long and painful death sentence.
Look at her now though.
After three surgeries (the third is in March) she will be going home a changed woman. Everyone who knows her is amazed by her amazing personality and overwhelming joy. I’ve met her once and was blown away, I never would have guessed that the girl in front of me was the same one in those pictures.
What does she think about this? ““God is good because He did a big thing for me. I did not believe that I could be saved, but God has had grace. Mercy Ships arrived in Pointe Noire, they treated me and I am better today.” She looks forward to returning home, where she will start school. When we asked Grace what she wanted to study, she said, “Well, I love medicine,” and she wants to be a nurse. Maybe someday we’ll see Grace again on the Africa Mercy, no longer a patient, but a volunteer nurse.
Codjo: 3 year old male.
Surgery: Ortho / Bilateral Bowed Legs
It’s hard to imagine a cute kid like that can suffer from a debilitating disability. He’s only three years old and already his legs are so bent that he can’t run with the other kids and without surgery he never will be able to. Not that the other kids will run with him anyways, Codjo is already seen as an outcast and it will only get worse.
Or at least that’s what would have happened without surgery.
Check it out.
Codjo’s legs are straight. He’ll be able to play soccer with other kids now. He’ll be able to lead a normal life. He’ll be able to get a job and a wife and kids and who knows what else. Maybe Codjo will go on to change the world one day, I don’t know. But I do know that he’ll do it on straight legs.
The patients who need to heal stay at a local building called the HOPE center that Mercy Ships runs. It’s essentially a hotel for recovering patients. When I visited there last I played soccer for an hour with Codjo. People kept telling me to be careful with him but I just laughed it off as he toddled after the ball, tirelessly bringing it back to me each time. I didn’t know who he was, maybe if I did I would have been a bit more careful with him but at the time I just knew that he was this awesome little kid who loved the soccer ball.
And do you want to know the amazing thing?
That’s how everyone will know him now too.
Claire: 73 year old female.
Surgery type: Goiter Removal
Claire’s goiter consisted of 3% of her body weight. Considering that she is barely four feet tall and weighs 35kilos (77lbs) this results in a fairly prominent growth.
Claire is from upcountry Congo where she lives in the forest. Back home we call her people ‘pygmies’ though they prefer to be called forest dwellers.
Claire’s tumor has been growing for 28 years. When asked how she lived with her tumor she told us that it was ‘very hard’. She was viciously harassed whenever she went out in public, constantly mocked and she was often accused of being a witch and eating human flesh. If that wasn’t bad enough she has had 12 kids, 8 of which died of malaria and other diseases.
I don’t know if ‘very hard’ is an apt description of that. Sounds more like ‘impossibly impossible’. The other day I misplaced the end of one of my headphones and I almost flew home to Canada.
Then one day at her daughter’s house she heard a loud car speaker announcing that a ship was coming that gave free surgeries. She ran outside to find out what kind and was shown a picture of someone who had received a goiter surgery on the ship. It was the first time she had ever seen someone else with a condition as bad as her. It was also the first time that she had ever hoped that she could be healed.
A week later she arrived a screening and was given an appointment for surgery.
I’ll let her picture speak for itself.
“Before surgery I was sick and very sad. But now since have the operation I feel alive.” – Claire
Ravette: 11 year old female
Surgery type: Ortho – Bilateral quadercepsplasy – Bow Legs
Every story I hear about Ravette is amazing. Anytime people speak about their favourite patients Ravette always get a mention. While she was on the ship her laughter brightened the wards. She was bright and funny and would practice her English. “Hello, How are you?” followed by a cascade of giggles being her catchphrase. She was like any other joyful kid except for her bent legs that would eventually have caused her to become a cripple.
But why does this happen?
A past quinine injection for malaria caused her legs to grow abnormally. Quinine is a medicine that helps cure malaria however if injected incorrectly, for example into muscles, it often causes such cases as we see here.
Because of the angle that her legs grew she would have definitely become a cripple. Her legs wouldn’t have been able to continue growing at that angle while being able to support an adults weight. And I don’t need to tell you that cripples don’t last too long here. Her mother already had one child die due to the same disease (sickle cell) and would have been devastated to lose Ravette. Luckily she doesn’t need to worry about that anymore.
Ravette’s legs are straight now. Though it’s a long process for her healing and she’ll need to be in braces for a bit longer she can walk and every day is walking stronger. Look how happy she is. Isn’t that awesome? I am so amazed that we are all a part of this. It actually blows my mind. This little girl’s life is changed forever and we are helping with that. No matter what she does in life she will always remember that Mercy Ships and thus God and thus You for helping me be here and everyone else involved helped her to walk. Incredible.