It’s easy to locate our eleven-year-old namako (the Malagasy word for friend). Just walk through the ward door and listen for the laughter. It’s a fact of life that Windy is rarely ever at his bed – he’s usually playing with someone else. And that “Someone Else” is usually another burn patient named Fandresena.
They are best friends, bound by natural compatibility and a common understanding of each other’s pain. They are a heart-warming reminder of how our patients receive the benefits of friendship and support, both from other patients and crew members.
As you walk up to him, the boy raises his arms for a huge hug … before wickedly smiling and promptly stealing one of the two stickers that you have on your face after your visit to the rehab tent. With great delight, he pops the sticker onto his own face. He then proceeds to jabber away at you in English. He’s been learning fast. In fact, on a couple of occasions, we’ve even used him as a mini-translator.
You would never guess that this boy with the sunny disposition has experienced something terrible. His face and arms tell a sad story. His skin is discoloured, uneven, raised, and grazed – beginning on his left cheek and snaking down his left arm. There is a patch on his head that should have hair, but doesn’t. He has limited movement in his arm and cannot straighten it.
Hot, merciless flames created the story that we now see.
When people saw the house on fire, they came to his rescue. Thank God! His mother, Clotilda, said, “We owe his life to many people. I was really, really scared.”
Clotilda was fearful for her child. Finding someone who could cure him was a problem. Money was a problem. His injury carved deep scars, both on his body and in his family’s hearts.
Windy loves playing football, basketball and rugby – basically anything that involves being active and rowdy. The fact that his arm prevented him from doing those things was really difficult for him to accept.
His arm also prevented him from achieving his BIG dream – to shoot a basketball.
He was often stuck at home in front of the TV, and his friends missed their charming playmate. They visited him every now and again, before leaving to play the games he could no longer enjoy.
It turns out that watching TV changed his life. His family heard the news about Mercy Ships and its free reconstructive plastic surgical program. With a radiant smile, Clotilda recalls, “This made me feel really happy,”
One trip and a Mercy Ships appointment card later, Windy was in our wards, making mischief and recovering from a procedure that allowed him to straighten his arm again.
It was an honor for us to witness a special moment in our friend’s life . . . the moment when his BIG dream finally came true.
On his first day of trying, Windy shot a basketball . . . and he scored . . . multiple times! We, his loyal fans, rejoiced with him.
“We teach the nurses and day-crew that the scars don’t tell a sad story. Instead, they tell one of overcoming and surviving, and that the Lord has great and big plans for their life. This is what we teach and reinforce to the patients when they ask us questions about their scars – that they would look at them and see beauty and life, not uneven discolouration.”
That is the heart of the plastics program . . . and the heart of Windy’s story.