In the developed world, children ask their parents for many things: toys, pets, candy and other sweet treats, and roller-coaster rides courtesy of daddy’s arms.
But in Madagascar, Little Rajo would often ask his father, Tojo, “Please, Daddy, arrange my feet.”
These words made Tojo want to cry. Rajo was born with clubfoot, a condition that meant his left foot was curved, making it hard to walk. Rajo’s friends often rejected him or excluded him from activities. They would say, “You can’t do that! You have a foot like that!”
Rajo reacted with a maturity far beyond his mere four years of age. He maintained his positive, friendly, happy-go-lucky attitude. The Mercy Ships crew were delighted victims of his friendliness. The balloons and other toys in the ward have also been delighted, if somewhat roughed up, recipients of his friendly attention.
Tojo felt the pain of his son’s condition. He would assure Rajo, “Daddy will find a way to fix it.” He added, “Every day, just looking at him, I have strength to take care of him. I have the strength to carry on. I love my children so much.”
A hospital visit three years ago gave Tojo some hope. He discovered that a cure was possible! But the treatment cost one million ariary ($380 USD). He earned his modest living by pulling a two-wheeled cart, known as a pousse-pousse. He would never be able to earn that much money! He tried asking other families for help and even begging, but he couldn’t accumulate enough money. Tojo became very familiar with hopelessness . . . until he heard a radio ad.
A few simple sentences floating from the radio caused the pathways of Tojo’s and Rajo’s lives to do U-turns. Mercy Ships was here! He heard the news on Tuesday night. On Wednesday morning, the 6 a.m. sun found father and son waiting in the Mercy Ships patient screening. A mere few weeks later, Rajo became acquainted with our surgery and rehab teams.
Rajo was seen wearing a very appropriate shirt, stating: DADDY’S ALL-STAR CHAMPION. Tojo needs a shirt that says: “SON’S ALL-STAR CHAMPION.”
A relieved and happy Tojo says, “”There was never, ever a happiness like what I have now happening in my life.”