Malang was only 2 years old when his legs first started curving outward.
“At that time, I didn’t know how bad it could become,” his father, Sadio, said.
Once it became apparent just how serious his son’s condition was, Sadio began searching for ways to heal him. He took Malang to the few hospitals he could access, but each consultation resulted in the same answer — they didn’t know what had caused Malang’s condition or, more importantly, how to resolve it.
The hospital visits began to weigh not only on Sadio’s spirit but on the family’s financial stability as well. After several consultations, the decision was made that Malang would need surgery — a treatment that Sadio feared he could never afford.
“I went back to my village to do a little business [as a mason], to help Malang get his surgery,” Sadio shared. “But I could not afford it.”
Sadio’s heart was broken because despite finally having the answer he had longed for, there was still nothing he could do to help his son. As Malang grew, his condition continued to worsen, causing him to struggle with every step.
“I was very sad when I saw Malang walking like that…it was tough for him to walk,” Sadio recalled. “Sometimes his friends would run and leave him behind, and he’d cry.”
However, a glimmer of hope appeared when Sadio heard about Mercy Ships from a friend whose relative had received free surgery on board. Inspired by this success story, Sadio decided to bring Malang to the Global Mercy in hopes of healing.
Malang came on board the hospital ship, where the power of surgical access became abundantly clear over just two hours in the operating room. For Malang, it was the gateway to a future where he would be free from the limitations that had bound him for so long.
“He may never realize how bad it would have gotten had he not had surgery,” said Dr. Rachel Buckingham, who performed Malang’s surgery. “The impact of the surgery will be huge. It means he can run around and play with his friends more readily. And he’ll be able to obtain an education.”
Malang’s operation was the first step of many in his healing journey. Amidst the challenging steps and therapy, Sadio’s devotion to his son remained unwavering. He was a constant presence by his son’s side, offering words of encouragement and a comforting hand to hold during the most challenging moments.
And when Malang took his first steps without his casts, Sadio was beside him, cheering him on.
“[Malang’s healing] touches my heart so deeply,” Sadio exclaimed. “[He can] become someone great in the world.”