For half her life, a hernia had restricted 10-year old Cecelia. She stayed close to home and could not run and climb with the other village children.
Her mother Sidonie carried her daughter’s schoolbag and walked her to school every day. Any strain or weight-bearing activity was just too much for the little girl.
Then one fabulous day Sidonie heard that a Mercy Ships team would be in their town screening potential patients for free surgery.
She and her mother were overjoyed to receive an appointment card for surgery. Cecelia’s whole world began to fill with new experiences as she and her mother made the long, difficult journey from Madagascar’s west coast to the Mercy Ship docked on the eastern seaboard.
Cecelia took in every detail around her when she arrived. She held tightly to her new friend Julia – the knitted teddy bear given to her at admission.
Cecelia had never seen a ship before and exclaimed, “It’s as big as a wall … and is full of foreigners, translators and TOYS!” She did not mind being in the hospital at all. “I am happy the nurses are talking to me, even though I don’t know what they are saying. I don’t know their words, but I understand their faces and smiles,” she said.
Sidonie offered a gentle reflection about their stay onboard: “Mercy Ships really care about a person. Thank you for opening your arms and embracing us!”
After a 10 day-recovery from her hernia operation and sailing through the post-op checks, Sidonie, Cecelia and her new teddy bear Julia started their long trip home.
And, as they travelled home, Sidonie dreamed of a normal life for her daughter. Cecelia just wanted to learn to ride a bicycle!
Story by Sharon Walls