Leaving a Legacy of Healthcare in Madagascar

In Malagasy (the language of Madagascar) the word for cute is mafatifaty, and two-year-old Elvie is no exception.

Elvie’s cuteness is fully matched by her determined spirit. She was born with a clubfoot – her left foot turned inward. But she certainly wasn’t going to allow her physical problem to limit her playtime . . . especially if playtime included balloons.

Photo Credit Katie Keegan – Elvie (MGB12339) on the dock

Elvie is a heart-stealer. Her community loves her so much that they overlooked her deformity. But her mother, Noeline, was heartbroken. What could she do?  What did the future hold for her baby girl?

Noeline was delighted when she heard about Mercy Ships. She and Elvie lined up with thousands of others on the very first patient screening day. And she was thrilled when Elvie was selected for a life-changing surgery.

Skilled Mercy Ships medical professionals used the Ponseti method to correct Elvie’s clubfoot.

The result . . . a mother in Madagascar is forever thankful for all the people who helped to change her baby’s life – the volunteers on the ship and the generous donors.

Madagascar is the fourth-largest island in the world, and it is home to over 22 million people. But there are only 8 surgeons who specialize in orthopedics.

Photo Credit Katie Keegan – Robyn POREP (AUS) works with Elvie (MGB12339) in Rehab

Now, many children with clubfoot will benefit from the medical capacity-building programs offered by Mercy Ships – thanks to the compassion of individuals and corporate sponsors (including many PQMD members). The programs include internationally recognized courses, structured observation onboard the hospital ship, and one-on-one mentoring opportunities.

Photo Credit Elie Sergio Benarson
Photo Credit Elie Sergio Benarson africa mercy ship dock africa mercy ship port

Dr. Andry, the only orthopedic surgeon in the port city of Tamatave, participated in the surgeon mentoring program. He spent two to three days each week for six weeks with the Mercy Ships operating room team. He says, “I learned something new and easy to practice, something I didn’t know before. It doesn’t require special tools or something expensive that we cannot have. It’s a knowledge that we can use directly.”

The knowledge of the Ponseti method for treatment of clubfoot has transformed Dr. Andry’s practice, and he will share that knowledge with other doctors. Through dedicated doctors like Dr. Andry, Mercy Ships hopes to leave a lasting legacy that will improve healthcare delivery in Madagascar.

And many more mothers in Madagascar will join Elvie’s mom Noeline in joyful repetitions of “I’m so happy! Merci, merci, merci!”