Happy New Year! We are eagerly looking to the year ahead, excited for all that is in the works. From ongoing training projects and partnerships with other health organizations throughout Africa to the Africa Mercy’s highly anticipated return to Senegal in a few short days, we know that lives will be changed.
Though we have appreciated the opportunities to grow and learn as an organization through the challenges we faced with COVID-19, we eagerly anticipate the Africa Mercy’s planned return to Senegal. Children and adults who were unable to receive the life-changing surgery they desperately needed have already received their appointment cards and will be first in line for operations when we return.
With the help of our new training programs and partnerships and the introduction of the Global Mercy, we know this year we will see more hope and healing than ever before. But none of these exciting new ventures would be possible if not for our volunteers and partners whose continued support has changed the lives of so many — those like young Paul Bernard.
When Paul was 3 years old, a fire left him with terrible burns. By the time he was 11, those burns had become scars that severely limited his mobility, causing him to struggle to do things other children his age could.
While life with limited mobility was difficult enough, the soft-spoken and gentle boy soon felt the sting of shame that came from being different. His mother, Estelle, sadly recounted how others in their community mocked Paul. Yet Estelle believed that her son’s warm spirit was unshakeable, saying, “If it had been another child in his condition, I don’t think anyone would have managed like Paul. He’s so kind and loves people.”
Though his scars caused him to feel ashamed, Paul continued to persevere. He even dreamed of one day becoming a carpenter — a hope that became increasingly distant due to the limits of his condition. One day, a radio announcement about a hospital ship nearby gave Paul and his family something they didn’t have before — hope.
The family immediately traveled to t the Africa Mercy, for surgery to repair his arm. And, after a successful operation, Paul was free to stretch out both arms — something he hadn’t been able to do for over seven years!
“When I saw his arms for the first time (after surgery), I got goosebumps all over,” Estelle shared. “I could see how much he had changed.”
Paul is back home now, where he can return to school and play with his friends without the restraints of old scars — his future once again full of possibilities.
Compassion and mercy change lives. As you read the digital version of Waves of Mercy, we hope that the stories of hope, healing, and lives restored touch your life in the same ways they have touched ours.
As we embark on this new year, we want to take a moment to say thank you to our family of partners, supporters, and volunteer professionals, who have dedicated their time and resources to bringing hope and healing where it’s needed most. The need is great, but together, we can make a world of difference to the many people living in areas without access to safe medical care.
Thank you for playing a vital role in bringing hope and healing to those in need!