Agriculture is largely performed by hand in this island nation, and at 40 years of age Noely has devoted a lifetime of back-breaking work to barely make ends meet.
One morning when Noely was washing, he called to his wife, “There is something swelling on my neck!” The growth, that began like a small stone lodged at the base of his throat, gradually grew. As it caused no pain, Noely did his best to ignore it. And still it grew.
Someone in the village told him the growth looked like a goiter, but going to see a doctor never crossed Noely’s mind. “I am responsible for my siblings as well as my family,” he said. “I’ve never been to a doctor. I would never think of spending money to fix it.”
And still the lump below his throat grew.
This dignified man now required his daughter to tie his shoelaces because he could no longer bend his neck to see his feet. And the goiter was slowly distorting his ability to speak.
A decade after his disturbing discovery in the mirror, Noely’s brother called him with amazing news. A Mercy Ship was returning to Madagascar, and they were treating goiters – for free! “I’m going to do everything I can to get there!” Noely exclaimed.
After attending a Mercy Ships patient screening in August, Noely was confirmed as a candidate for goiter surgery later in the year, with no charge for any of the medical care.
Just four days after being admitted to the ship’s ward in January, Noely was headed home – minus the baseball-sized growth on his neck. He felt great!
When the effervescent Noely swung by for his six-week check-up, he had some stories to tell. “When I first arrived back to my village, people were amazed. Some people cried they were so happy. We had a really big party. They killed a pig and ten chickens, and we danced and ate with my family and friends. They were so happy to see me back happy and healthy!”
With a million-dollar smile, Noely quietly shared, “I am really happy. I’m thankful for the work Mercy Ships is doing in Madagascar.”
Written by Sharon Walls
Photos by Katie Keegan