I have seen many in the last few months and I have also heard some beautiful stories of them in the last two days. There are also the ones that are so subtle that they catch you by surprise and it’s not until you take stock and look back that you are able to see exactly what has changed and how.
As you can probably imagine, transformations are a pretty regular occurrence around here, after all this is a hospital ship that provides life changing and often life saving surgeries free of charge to the poorest of the poor. Having said that, there is nothing regular or standard about what happens here day in and day out!
In this last month, I got to photograph my first operation, actually four in two days! There was a visitor in the with me observing. He asked “Does this ever get old?” After a little clarification of what he was actually asking me and me telling him that our family had only been on the ship for five months. I looked at the surgeon (who has been on the ship and performing these same surgeries for the last 28 years) and gave it some thought.
My response, prefaced with the “we’ve only been here 5 months” disclaimer was how could it possibly get old? I explained that every patient that comes to Mercy Ships has a story and all of them are amazing in their own way. That we get to be a part of surgeries that not only change people physically, but emotionally, socially and spiritually as well and that the transformation that takes place often affects not only the patient, but their caregiver, their families and more often than not, their whole community. This is such an amazing place to be, how can that get old? Ever?
Earlier this week I was in the Outpatients Clinic catching up with a patient that we are following when I turned and saw Francois! I would recognize that smile anywhere. He stole our hearts at the first screening day with his big cheeky cleft lip smile. I haven’t seen him until this day and what a difference! Physical transformation at it’s best 🙂
Another one who stole my heart on that day was a young and very serious boy named Libertho. We quickly began calling him “Mr Serious” but were certain to have him smiling in no time. He has been on the ward for a little while, has had his club foot operated on and is getting around in a cast. This week I caught it. He is smiling … priceless!