Fifalina, Madagascar 2015


Fifalina knows setbacks. She was born with a condition that caused her legs to become twisted and turned severely in multiple directions. The day Kristi met her, Fifalina was chasing a balloon- barely able to walk but laughing anyway.

‘There are a lot of days I don’t feel brave, or strong, or optimistic, even though I deeply want to be all those things. Life has a way of doing that sometimes, ‘ reflects Kristi. ‘That’s when I think about Fifalina, a 10-year-old girl from Madagascar I met while volunteering as a videographer onboard the Africa Mercy in 2016.’

‘She became the last Mercy Ships patient, to my knowledge, to receive surgery for that condition, because of the complex nature of the surgery and the long rehab time needed. Because of that, so many of my days with Mercy Ships were also days with Fifalina. She endured a bilateral surgery, an extremely painful recovery, other complications, and long days of rehab, barely inching forward with progress. She watched other kids go home a lot faster and sooner than her.

‘But still she laughed. On days in rehab that were painful, she smiled. Her giggle and smile had a way of capturing the hearts of so many people on that ship,’ recalls Kristi. ‘You could ask almost any crew member from that field service – I don’t think her joy knew how to be stolen. Her kindness and bravery were real, forged in long days of wondering if life would ever change for her.

‘Thanks to technology and a kind translator, now in 2018 I’m still able to keep in touch with her family. She’s back in school, and she walks there now instead of her mama carrying her. Her life is still not easy. Some of her life circumstances would still break your heart.

‘But still she laughs.’

Watch Fifalina’ story here

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