By Jenny Pope
with reporting by Megan Petock, Mercy Ships
Photography by Debra Bell, Mercy Ships
(LIBERIA) – Emmanuel, 10, was used to being treated as an outcast. Born with two club feet, a condition that caused his heels to point upwards and the bottom of his feet to curl, he was unable to walk to school with his friends or play outside.
Without corrective surgery as an infant, Emmanuel learned to walk on the tops of his feet in an awkward, painful way. He was rejected by his own family and taken to a refugee home in Monrovia after all six of his siblings died.
It was here that he would meet Ines Kronestor, part of the Mercy Ships advance team who was preparing for an upcoming crew. Mercy Ships is a global charity that operates hospital ships and provides medical care to the poor around the world. When Ines saw Emmanuel’s condition, she recommended him for corrective surgery.
Due to his age, Emmanuel would have to have two operations to heal his feet. He received his first corrective surgery in August 2007 and his second surgery in February 2008. When he arrived back to his village, a crowd of children greeted him with smiles and cheers as they carefully lifted him into their arms and carried him around like a hero.
“I am happy,” he said. “I wanted to be walking with my friends to school but it was painful. I will be like my friends when I go to school.”
He wasn’t an outcast anymore.
Kronestor had become good friends with the boy and had watched his transformation. “To see him now after the second surgery, it is quite mind blowing. He would not have had much of a future with two crippled feet. His life has been changed from what Mercy Ships does.”
After his feet healed, Mercy Ships provided Emmanuel with a new pair of shoes provided by Shoes for Orphan Souls, the largest humanitarian aid distribution project of Buckner International. In the past 10 years, more than 1.8 million children have received a new pair of shoes through Buckner.
“This story is a perfect example of God’s provision for all of us in our time of need,” said Rachel Garton, director of Shoes for Orphan Souls. “So many people are a part of this boy’s story, and without any one of them he might not be where he is today. It’s a privilege to know that we were able to be a part of his story.”
You can help change a child’s live, like Emmanuel’s, through the gift of a new pair of shoes. Give a pair of shoes today.
Learn more at www.ShoesforOrphanSouls.org.
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