before

meet Elisabeth

Country: Madagascar, Africa
Age: 5 Months
Surgery: Maxillofacial

a parent’s worst nightmare

When Elisabeth was born with a cleft lip and cleft palate, her parents were already struggling to provide for their children. They knew they could never afford to repair their daughter’s facial deformity. And it broke their hearts.

“I was really sad because I was thinking about her future,” said her mother, Therese. “I would never have any money to get any treatment.”

Adding to their pain, people in the village laughed at Elisabeth. They said that she would die and that there was nothing that could save her. Therese was terrified that they were right. Because of her cleft lip and palate, Elisabeth couldn’t nurse properly. Therese did not know what to do. She kept her baby alive by feeding her diluted condensed milk from a spoon. Still, Elisabeth wasn’t growing like a baby should.

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 news too good to be true

Then, one day someone at church told Therese that Mercy Ships was returning to Madagascar. And that Elisabeth’s cleft could be repaired for free on board the floating hospital, Africa Mercy. Therese was overjoyed. As soon as she could, she got Elisabeth to the ship. But by the time they arrived, the situation was dire. Too weak for surgery, Elisabeth was quickly taken into our Infant Feeding Program. She began to gain weight. And in just two months, she was healthy enough to have her lip repaired.

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a second chance at life

With help from friends like you, Elisabeth had her cleft repaired at 5 months old. When she returned to the village after surgery, the neighbors in her village were shocked. Elisabeth looked beautiful! “It really happened,” they exclaimed. “God was really with them.”

Meanwhile, Elisabeth will continue to receive dietary support until after her cleft palate surgery takes place at the 10-month threshold. And a whole new future will open up for this sweet little girl.

“Even though I am poor, I feel a lot of things have gone from my shoulders now,” said Therese. “Before I was so worried about the future, but now my baby will look like everybody else.”

bound by scarring

When she was just two years old, Sasiline tripped over her family’s cooking fire and plunged into boiling water. With no medical care available in her village, Sasiline’s deep burns became badly infected. Massive scarring developed, turning her right arm into an immobile web of scar tissue. Her right hand was frozen backwards.