“What happened to me, mommy?” Pierre would ask, “When are you going to fix my legs?”
Unsure how to answer her four-year-old son, Edwige made a promise that she would do everything she could to find healing for Pierre’s twisted legs.
When she first noticed Pierre’s legs were growing differently than the other children, their family tried various massaging techniques to reverse the damage. But a lack of vital nutrition from an early age meant Pierre’s bones wouldn’t support his growing body weight for long.
When Edwige realized nothing was working, she was afraid he would become handicapped, and feared for her little boy’s future. But when she enquired about surgery, she was mocked and told that coins were not accepted. “I was angry because they were right,” said Edwige sadly. “I couldn’t afford it.”
But after Edwige heard about Mercy Ships, she began the journey to the Africa Mercy with her vivacious little boy, where she finally received what she’d hoped and prayed for throughout Pierre’s childhood — an appointment for surgery.
However, after Pierre caught a fever and his surgery date had to be moved several times, Edwige began thinking her miracle was too good to be true. “I was hurting and I thought the ship did not want to give him surgery. I didn’t understand,” she explained. “I love my children so much that when they hurt, I am in pain.” But as they entered the final week of scheduled orthopedic surgery, Pierre made a recovery and was miraculously given the green light for his procedure in the nick of time!
“For his age, Pierre was one of the worst cases I have seen,” said Volunteer Physiotherapist Stefanie Neeb, who worked with Pierre during his rehabilitation. “He already had a dislocated knee cap, so he needed additional surgery. If we had not intervened, it wouldn’t have been long before he would be unable to walk completely.”
After a successful surgery to straighten Pierre’s legs, Edwige could breathe easy for the first time in a long time as she watched her son make his first steps toward a changed future. She had suffered the heartache of a seemingly unsolvable problem in her son’s life, but now she had found the hope her heart was lacking.
“Even with the best schooling, education, and qualifications, he would not have gotten far in life,” Edwige said. “The disabled are not favored. But now, his future is secured as a man and member of society.”
On the day of Pierre’s discharge, Edwige watched video footage of her son walking before surgery. As the tears streamed down her face, Pierre joyfully ran and played behind her on his new legs — unaware of the emotional journey his mother had experienced.
Back home amongst the bustle of pans, crackling fires, and clucking chickens, the sound of singing could be heard in Pierre’s village. A sweet melody left the four-year-old’s lips as he recited a song to his family and friends following the surgery to straighten his legs.
“My friends do not look for me at my old address; the Lord has taken me and given me a new one! He has taken me, fixed me, and positioned me!”
The powerful words of this song were held tightly by Edwige.
“I now have a sense of comfort in my heart, and whenever I feel like I have a big problem, I just look at Pierre walking and it brings me peace,” Edwige said. “It heals my hurt.”
Written by: Georgia Ainsworth
Edited by: Karis Johnson
Photos by: Shawn Thompson and Saul Loubassa Bighonda