Sunday, June 13, 2010

Abel Dalome

Abel is a very happy eleven-year-old, who loves to make new friends. His attitude is surprising when one considers the physical problem he has been living with for most of his life … and the reaction of most people to that problem.

Abel had a normal childhood until a problem arose following an injection. His parents noticed he was having difficulty learning to crawl. His muscles had stopped growing, but his bones had not. As a result, his legs were not growing correctly because there was so little musculature to direct them. They began to bend backward at the knee, forcing his upper thighs out behind him. His parents took him to three different doctors, but none of them knew what to do for him.

Despite this condition, the resolute Abel learned to lean forward, correcting his balance enough to walk, climb and do just about anything any other active boy can do. He even became the goalkeeper on his football (soccer) team. The only thing he couldn't do was ride a bicycle, since it requires sitting straight on the seat and pushing down on the pedals.

Abel's physical deformity made him the target of ridicule from other children. But he remained optimistic thanks to his joyful spirit and his wonderfully supportive parents.

One day, there was an announcement on the radio that a Mercy Ship was coming to Togo, offering free surgeries. Abel's hopeful father took his son to an orthopedic screening in Lomè.

Abel as he appeared at the orthopedic screening

In the admissions tent, Abel demonstrates how he was able to sit before surgery.

Before surgery, Abel climbs into the Mercy Ships vehicle on hisway to the Hospitality Centre.

A few days later, a wonderful surprise awaited Abel when he awoke after his first surgery onboard the Africa Mercy . His left leg was straight out in front of him, wrapped in a cast! As he admired his newly straightened leg, he asked his dad if his right leg would also be straight after the next surgery. His father assured him that it would. Abel jubilantly declared, “If the other leg is going to be like this one, I am going to give a big thanks to the Lord. ” And a second surgery did straighten his right leg. He also had a third procedure – plastic surgery on his knees.

After two surgeries, a happy Abel and his father relax in the ward.

Through the round of surgeries and post-operative care, Abel's sparkling personality and brilliant smile earned him many new friends among the crew and among the other children recovering at the Hospitality Centre.

Abel enjoys sharing his picture books with roommates at the Hospitality Centre

A happy Abel tests his straight legs and crutches at the Hospitality Centre

A smiling Abel gets used to walking on straight legs with crutches on the dock beside the ship, as his dad looks on in the background

With the World Cup approaching, Abel is intensely interested in watching his favorite sport … and especially his favorite player, Chelsea's Didier Drogba. After so many weeks of recuperation, he is eagerly looking forward to getting out on the field himself.

But Abel's long-term goal is not to become a famous soccer player. He is determined to become a surgeon, like those on the Mercy Ship, “ because of the things they have done for me ,” he said.

Abel and his dad happily show off the casts in post op. after their removal.

Story by Elaine B. WinnEdited by Nancy PredainaPhotos by Debra Bell and Liz Cantu


  1. Estelle... I love reading your blog!!! It must be so amazing being part of this! Keep it up!
    Brenda-Louise x

  2. I love these posts. And they always seem to come at just the right time - when I'm feeling down and out and as if everything's going wrong. Just makes me realise how privileged I actually am.

  3. estelle, thank you for the beautifull story of abel - luc from mercy ships belgium