A woman had a facial tumor that started to grow in her cheek when she was only 12 years old. Now, 32 years later, her fate took a positive turn.
Her tumor was removed at Mercy Ships, a global charity that uses hospital ships to “transform lives.”
Nurse Natalie Bullock from Kankakee, Illinois, who has been volunteering with Mercy Ships since 2012, treated Vololonirina after her surgery.
“I first saw her sitting in the waiting area, awaiting her admission for surgery. She had a beautiful blue scarf covering the lump on her face and seemed fearful. I introduced myself and pointed to the outpatient tent, reassuring her that soon she’d be out of the hospital and would no longer need to cover her face. I didn’t think she would even remember me because she was so reluctant to make eye contact,” Bullock said recalling the first time she met Vololonirina.
“Weeks later, she was discharged and arrived at the outpatient clinic, smiling, with the tumor gone and the same blue scarf draped over her shoulders. Not only did she remember me, but she invited me and a few others to her village to meet her family. They were sure she was incurable and said they couldn’t believe she would ever have a normal-looking face again.”
Mercy Ships has more than 1,600 volunteers helping in locations around the world. The charity has more than 900 volunteers from 45 nations serving each year in Africa with 400 of those on board at any given time, the company said in a statement. However, some would volunteer for two weeks or for several months, and there are others who would stay with them for years.
“Our volunteers—be they nurses, surgeons, mariners, teachers, cooks, or accountants—are crucial to our mission. Without their skills and passion, so many in Africa would go without the hope and healing Mercy Ships brings. These volunteers remember the forgotten poor and are changing countries, one life at a time,” said Allison Holisky, Director of Recruiting at Mercy Ships.