Thursday, June 21, 2012

Afi - and the mute shall speak...

Another example of love in action from the writers:

“Every moment of my life is difficult to survive. I struggle greatly, and I struggle alone,” Afi says with tear-filled eyes that testify to the pain she has suffered for the last four years. As she speaks of the suffering she has endured, she takes a rag to wipe the tears streaming down her scarred face and recounts her story with courage and grace.

Afi suffers from a disorder called epilepsy. She can suddenly have seizures that force her body into debilitating tremors. One day in 2008, Afi was cooking over a fire with her one-month-old son strapped to her back. Suddenly, she felt ill and thought she needed to sit down. Before she had time to react, her body went into a seizure, forcing her to fall face-first into the fire. She lay there in the fire, seizing helplessly. Luckily, her infant son was not harmed, but the damage to Afi was brutal. She suffered severe burns on her face, neck, hands, and legs.

Afi tried to go to a hospital to get medical help, but the hospital turned her away because she had no one to take care of her son. As her wounds began to heal, her skin started to contract, pulling her face down and her shoulder upwards. The injuries became her shackles over the next four years. Afi’s husband left her because he could not stand to look at her. Riddled with guilt, he ended up committing suicide, leaving Afi to be the sole parent to their three children.

People believed that Afi’s deformity was the result of a curse. She was no longer able to sell fruit in the market because people were too afraid of her. She was forced into a life of isolation, with only her children to help her. The village would no longer allow Afi to walk through the center, touch anything, or be near anybody. When children caught a glimpse of Afi's face, they ran away in fear. She had to hide in her home. If she wanted to go anywhere, she had to sneak around the outskirts of town.

Recently, she went to the hospital again, desperately seeking help. Catching a glimpse of a TV, she heard that Mercy Ships was coming to Togo, West Africa. Afi wrote down the dates. Leaving her children with her father-in-law, Afi tried to get to the port. Relentlessly, she made three trips to the port gates, each time being turned away by the local security. Finally, she was allowed through and examined by Mercy Ships crew.

It was a wonderful day when she was given her appointment card. “I know now that things are going to be better. I can tell my life will move in that direction,” Afi says as she spends her days on her hospital bed onboard the Africa Mercy. Afi’s surgery will release the contracted skin, allowing her neck and shoulder to move again. Her eyelids and lips will be released and repaired. She will receive function and movement again – release from the shackles, the injuries that have held her captive.

She has already had a taste of how much better her life will be. Mercy Ships crew are not afraid of her, and they look her in the eyes. This is the start of a new life, with new hope and a new future. She smiles through her tears saying, “Thank you for everything, and thank you to everybody. I now see a new life coming my way. I pray God will help me each step of the way.”

Afi was very cautious when she first arrived, not sure of how anyone would treat her.
Afi on the day of her arrival to the Africa Mercy.
Afi waits in the ward, healing after her surgery on her neck, eyelids, and lips.
After surgery, Afi is served dinner in the ward.
Afi is so touched by the fact that the Mercy Ships crew are not afraid to touch her.
Afi worships with friends in the church service held in the wards. 
Afi gives her testimony in the ward church service on the Sunday of her departure.
Afi is sad to leave the Africa Mercy, where she has received so much love and support.
She says goodbye to Mercy Ships, with hopes to return for further reconstruction.
She leaves with a new hope that keeps her head held high.

No comments: