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Sambany, Madagascar 2014


When he was still a young man, the tumour on his face began to consume Sambany’s life. For 36 years it grew, and grew, and grew – until it became a monstrous burden weighing 7.46 kg.

‘I could not do anything,’ Sambany lamented.’Every day I was just waiting to die.’

Sambany lives in a remote Madagascan village. It took five people taking turns to carry him on their backs to reach the road. They hiked for days – into high altitudes and down again, canoed in hollowed-out logs, and waded through waist-high water – before finally finding a ride to the Mercy Ship in the port city.

The risky and complex surgery to remove Sambany’s enormous tumour took over 12 hours.

When Sambany looked in the mirror, seeing himself tumour-free for the first time, he classically stated, ‘I like it. I am happy!’ Later he added, ‘I am free from my disease. I’ve got a new face, I am saved.’

Kiwi writer Eunice was one of the people who made the arduous trek home with Sambany in 2015 after he recovered from surgery. She remarked, ‘The blood (donations) of 17 crew members, from 6 nations, literally poured life into him. My heart felt full over how our community had banded together for him; prayer meetings, concerned requests for updates, someone fasting…’

On the journey home, Sambany’s wife accidentally met them along the route. She didn’t even recognise her husband! They talked and talked as they made the remainder of the journey together.

Eunice was there when the village spokesperson decreed, ‘We are so happy because a friend who was about to die is alive! He was lost but now he is back!

Watch Sambany’s story here

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