Sandrins sadly watches as her sisters run down their neighborhood road with the other children. They are excitedly ready for another day at school where they can learn new things! Eight-year-old Sandrins looks at them longingly, desperate to join but unable. While her sisters and friends are all receiving an education, Sandrins must stay home with her mother – left behind, as she often is, because of a foot deformity.
It wasn’t always like this for Sandrins. She used to go to school with her sisters and friends, but it has been several months since she last attended classes. The three-kilometer walk to school gradually became too painful.
Not being able to go to school has been just one of the many limitations in Sandrins’ life after her right leg was negatively affected by a quinine injection. The medicine that cured her of malaria unfortunately damaged the nerves in her right leg, causing her foot to bend inwardly at the ankle.
Sandrins was only five at the time. For a while, Sandrins’ mother Lydia tried to keep Sandrins in school by carrying the child on her back. But, as Sandrins grew in size, she was too heavy for her mother to carry. Lydia was forced to stop Sandrins’ studies and keep her at home.
It is especially sad for Lydia to see Sandrins in this condition because Sandrins has a twin sister, Sandra, who is perfectly healthy. The differences in the two girls can be traced all the way back to birth. Sandra was born healthy and strong, but Sandrins was born frail and skinny.
But Lydia never gave up hope for a cure for Sandrins, and it presented itself in the most unusual way. She heard a radio announcement about the arrival of a big ship on which people like Sandrins could receive help for free.
So, she carried Sandrins on her back to the Ship. And what a ship! On the Africa Mercy, a ship belonging to the international charity organization Mercy Ships, 450 people from all around the world volunteer : surgeons, nurses, but also cooks, mechanics of seamen are paying to work on board! Mercy Ships exists for almost 40 years and provides medical care to the poorest of the poor through health care services, lifechanging operations and capacity building programs by mobilizing people and resources worldwide.
Lydia was overjoyed when her daughter was among those selected for surgery onboard the hospitalship.
The second stage in Sandrins’ healing – emotional healing – happened at nearly the same time as the first. As the one who was always left behind, Sandrins became a very reserved, quiet child. She would often hide behind her mama when strangers would visit and never made eye contact with them. However, Sandrins blossomed in the love of the nurses, and her true personality began to shine. She became their “little helper” on the ward. The shy little girl who hid behind her mama was replaced with a smiling one who ran to be the first to greet you.
Each successful moment of physical and emotional healing brings Sandrins one step closer to being able to go back to school. She will no longer be the one who is left behind!
You can also help MercyShips bring hope and healing to the poorest in Africa ! By sharing this story, by volunteering on board the Africa Mercy or by organizing a creative fundraising event to support the hospital ship! Learn more on www.mercyships.ch