Beauty through the Pain

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Nestled atop a hill with breathtaking views and strong gusts of wind is a village in the heart of Madagascar. Just a six-hour drive from the capital of Antananarivo or Tana, where most of the island’s population live, the village is a sharp contrast to the city — with only a few hundred inhabitants.

This village is where 26-year-old Muriella lives, changed forever by hope and healing that are only possible because of our generous partners.

Muriella’s unique story of healing stands out from the rest of her small community. About a decade ago, at the age of 17, Muriella had a tumor growing on the left side of her face, one that kept her ashamed and alone.

“I would come home often in tears because the other kids at school told me I was contagious,” Muriella recalls. “Only my two sisters stood by me and loved me unconditionally. That helped me a lot.”

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The lack of medical care available to Muriella meant that there was a risk the small tumor would continue to grow, painful, and possibly even dangerous. Then hope arrived.

Then, in 2015, Mercy Ships arrived in Madagascar with hundreds of volunteers ready to provide free surgical care to those in need.

When the teenager heard about the hospital ship, she had a difficult decision to make. One of Muriella’s cousins had died following post-operative complications at a local hospital a few years prior, leaving the rest of the family fearful of this new possibility. Her grandfather was strongly opposed to the idea of surgery, but Muriella’s mother was hopeful and asked her to go for the surgery.

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“I didn’t think much about it at the time,” Muriella remembers. “But in retrospect, I realize how very different my life would have turned out if I hadn’t received the surgery from Mercy Ships. I would very likely not have all the things I now have in life if I hadn’t received the surgery back then, and maybe I wouldn’t even be here.”

Nearly a decade has passed, and life has changed dramatically for Muriella.

Now married and the mother of a 3-year-old son, she is very optimistic about her family’s future. After the couple got married, they began a grocery store together, and today they have dreams of expanding their business.

“I want to take a course in business management,” she says. “That way, I can better manage the business and livestock farm that my husband and I hope to open.”

Muriella’s filled with dreams for her little boy, too.

“My desire is for my son to choose his own path,” she said with a smile. “But if it were up to me, I’d love for him to become a pilot — that way, he can take me to travel and see the world!”