Victorien’s Brave Journey

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Victorien before and after his free surgery on board the Mercy Ship
Victorien before and after his free surgery on board the Mercy Ship

A boy can cope with a lot of set-backs, but rejection by his friends is a crushing blow.

When Victorien’s cheek began to swell, a dentist identified an abnormality in his mouth and said he needed to go to the city to be examined. As Victorien and his family live in an isolated area in Madagascar’s north, this did not seem possible.

As the bump in his mouth grew and grew, Victorien lived with a terrible fear. “I thought I was going to die,” whispers the 11-year-old.

His friends called him Big Chin, and stopped playing with him.

The benign tumour continued to rapidly multiply in size. After several months his face was severely distorted and they could wait no longer.  The family rented out their rice field, the village pulled resources, and they gathered just enough money for Victorien and his mother to travel for the help he desperately needed.

Mother and son crowded into a boat with 60 others. With seating room only they spent two days at sea, and slept upright on their allocated bench. Victorien was seasick and afraid in the rough weather. His misshapen face attracted stares from the other passengers.

Finally arriving in Toamasina, they were met by an Uncle who took them to the Mercy Ships dental clinic.  Victorien’s swelling was quickly identified as a tumour requiring major surgery.

When his Mercy Ships surgery date arrived, volunteer surgeons spent several hours removing a tumour the size of two fists. As Victorien recovered in the Mercy Ships wards after his extensive operation, he began to heal from the inside out. “Everyone in the ward is a friend, “he said.

As a transformed Victorien prepares to make the long journey home, he is already planning for the future. He is anxious to return to his friends and longs to play soccer and their games with toy cars. He looks forward to returning to school, and when he grows up he wants to be a math teacher – or a soldier.

But most important of all, Victorian is no longer afraid of his future.