It was a journey that would take 6 Mercy-Shippers braving around 33 miles and 5 days through rivers and rice fields, hiking up and down approximately 2,500 feet of altitude, driving through mud, canoeing, and much more – but the outcome was worth it. The ‘Fellowship of Sambany’ (as these crew members called themselves) accompanied Sambany, a man whose 7.46 kg tumour volunteer surgeons had removed months ago, and his grandson Flavy, safely home!
Sambany’s Wife Sees Him Without His Tumor For The First Time…
No one we met was as spunky as the woman with the colorful hat, cheeky grin and a thumbs-up always at the ready: Sambany’s wife, Barazafy. She said,
How differently Barazafy feels now. She shares how her heart raced upon seeing her husband for the first time in five months. And then she describes seeing him without his tumour for the first time, “I did not recognize Sambany! … I said, “Is it you?” I was really happy!”
Sambany’s Sister’s Reaction…
We met Sambany’s sister in a village on the way to his home village of Sahanomby. Her emphatic exclamations revealed an astounded woman,
She looked at her brother and said, “You got a second chance.”
Sambany and Barazafy’s first steps onto their home soil were directed straight to the center of their village. There, they prayed. When they had finished, they made their way to a little wooden hut under the amazed and intrigued stares of the other villagers. These people took turns pouring into the hut, where they listened attentively to the tale of a man who they had thought had been dead for months and gaped at the photographic evidence of his experience.
Radio, Dance, Celebration!
Sambany’s journey began with a radio (where he heard about Mercy Ships), and it will end with a radio. Throughout our trek, the mountains of Madagascar were filled with tunes blasting from his radio (including ‘Alouette’ and songs by One Direction). Flavy and Sambany occasionally let their inner flow out as spontaneous mini-dances (one of Sambany’s dances looked like tap-dancing). The night of Sambany’s return, his radio was the center of a dance party celebrating his healing. We asked Barazafy if she was going to dance with him. She said, “Yes! The whole village is going to dance with him!”
Saying Goodbye to Sambany...
The morning of Sambany’s first full day at home without his tumor, his village held a ceremony dedicated to thanking Mercy Ships for granting him another chance at life. Following a gift of three chickens and a bag of rice, Sahanomby’s spiritual leader gave a heartfelt, grateful speech.
His people assembled to wave us goodbye, and as we shook Sambany’s (and fist-bumped Barazafy’s) hands, we looked into their faces and saw joy. The joy of a man and his family free from a terrible burden; who are free to live.