before

meet Elina

Country: Madagascar, Africa
Age: 6
Surgery: Plastic Reconstructive

Elina Video Still

a long road to healing

For Elina to heal properly, her intensive wounds would need to be cleaned and multiple surgeries would be needed—including skin grafts. Proper physical therapy and a long rehabilitation would be essential, too. All of these factors made her case fall outside of what Mercy Ships can usually commit to due to time restraints. Ria was delighted when she was able to tell Elina and her mother that surgery was approved. It was the beginning of a very long road to healing.

Elina made regular visits to the ship’s outpatient treatment center to receive proper wound care prior to surgery. After a few months, she had healed enough to be admitted to the ship’s hospital. Through a series of complex surgeries, the volunteer surgeons successfully released the contractures and performed skin grafts, providing a better chance for her to move her arm, neck and head more normally.

from terrible scars, a courageous spirit emerges

The recovery period took months, but it was a special time for everyone involved. While Elina worked hard to get better and improve her flexibility, she easily worked her way into the hearts of Mercy Ships crewmembers. Her courageous six-year-old spirit would leave a lasting mark. “It was beautiful to see how we all worked together from all different areas to care for her,” said Ria.

Elina’s scars will remain, but hopefully they will remind her of the people who grew to love her so dearly.

childhood stolen. hope restored

Jean was born with badly bowed legs, which caused many physical—and emotional—complications during his early childhood.

His O-shaped legs made it nearly impossible for him to walk normally—let alone run, jump, kick or play. Instead, Jean’s earliest memories are of isolation, ridicule and despair. While other children in his village were kicking soccer balls and jumping rope, Jean watched sadly from afar. He was never asked to play.