Marie Madeleine loves school. She believes with a good education, she will be able to accomplish her dreams, and she refuses to let her condition slow her down.
When she was a child, Marie Madeleine developed an abnormally tight muscle contracture in her leg. As she continued to grow, her knee hyperextended backward, leaving her with a severe limp when she walked.
Despite this difficulty, Marie Madeleine continued making the short journey to school, where she was determined to learn.
While the 13-year-old’s condition has caused her to struggle to keep up physically, her family has worked hard to make sure that she has spent her life surrounded by love and acceptance. Still, they worried for her future, believing that eventually Marie Madeleine’s condition would hold her back from reaching her full potential.
“My hope is for her to be like every other girl with a backpack going to school,” her grandmother said. “But we couldn’t afford surgery, so we just waited for a miracle.”
One day, that miracle arrived in the form of news from a neighbor in their village, who told them about the Africa Mercy arriving in the Port of Dakar, about 100 miles from their home. The neighbor gave the family the information for the patient selection process, and soon Marie Madeleine had surgery scheduled. She began envisioning all the possibilities that lie ahead.
Although recovery would be long, Mary Madeleine handled it bravely. She worked with the rehab team for several hours a week to restore mobility and improve her leg’s strength.
Several months after her arrival at the Africa Mercy, the bright 13-year-old girl with a triumphant smile and straight legs was ready to go home and back to school!
The day after she arrived in her village, Marie Madeleine was back in the classroom. Her classmates asked her, “How come your leg changed?”
She simply replied,