meet Vanya

Country: Madagascar, Africa
Age: 10
Surgery: Orthopedic

Vanya walks across the dock toward the gangway, holding her mother’s hand tightly. Her hair dances in the breeze. Nearby, a large white ship sits quietly at the dock—the words AFRICA MERCY across its bow.

From above, volunteer doctors and nurses watch Vanya struggle to board on her bent and twisted legs, which look to be blown sideways by a powerful wind. This deformity is appropriately called “windswept legs.”

For 10 years, Vanya has experienced increasing pain from her condition. And not just physical pain. Because of the appearance of her legs, she’s been taunted by other kids and left out of their activities. She’s unable run and play. And she’s experienced terrible shame.

Vanya’s legs are also threatening to crush her dream of becoming a fashion designer someday. She longs to wear skirts or leggings. To dress like other girls her age. But her legs limit her wardrobe to wide pants. Her greatest wish is to have them repaired.

If my feet are fixed, I can wear whatever I want, like the other little girls,” she said.

Vanya Black Backgouund2

Vanya and Nurse1


a child’s wish come true

Thanks to support from our caring donors and volunteers, Vanya got her wish. When her casts were removed after surgery, she had perfectly straight legs. The physical deformity was gone, clearing the way for a new future. One in which anything is possible.

a second chance at life

Elisabeth was severely malnourished and stunted from a cleft lip and palate. Her parents were terrified she would die. But thanks to support from friends like you, Elisabeth was rushed into Mercy Ships’ Infant Feeding Program. Just two months later, she was healthy enough to have her lip repaired.