For over 40 years, Mercy Ships volunteers and supporters have worked endlessly to provide safe, quality medical care to those who need it most. Over 2.8 million people have been impacted throughout those years, and as we approach a new time in our history, we’d like to take a moment to remember some of the patients whose stories of hope and healing have touched our hearts.
We begin with a patient from our 2016 Madagascar field service nearly five years ago.
Noely is a strong, proud Malagasy farmer. He owns a plot of land and raises coffee, pineapple, and bananas to provide for his wife and child. 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, caused no pain, so Noely did his best to ignore it.
But over time, the lump began to grow.
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. In addition to his limited mobility, the goiter was also slowly distorting his ability to speak.
A decade after his disturbing discovery in the mirror, Noely’s brother called him with amazing news. Mercy Ships was planning to come 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, Noely was confirmed as a candidate for goiter surgery later in the year, with no charge for any of the medical care.
Noely received a surgery to remove the goiter on his neck and only four days after being admitted to the ship’s ward, he was headed home — minus the baseball-sized growth on his neck. He felt great!
“When I first arrived back to my village, people were amazed,” Noely shared. “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 continued, “I am really happy. I’m thankful for the work Mercy Ships is doing.”
Noely is only one example of the life-changing miracles that occur thanks to the compassionate giving of our partners and the tireless work of our volunteers. And with the highly anticipated first field service of our new ship, the Global Mercy, coming soon, even more children and families will have the opportunity to find hope where there was once only pain.
The need is great, but hope and mercy are greater!