Her tiny legs bounce almost as if her feet have springs in them, a broad smile plastered across her face, stretching almost as far as the deep scar that runs from one side to the other from the bottom of her chin all the way up to her ear. But none of this matters today, because the terrible memory that this little girl bears is about to go away.
Or at least that is what she thinks.
I tried to warn her, telling her in Amharic, and again through Rahael our nurse, “yes we are going to see doctor who can make scars go away, but no we don’t know for sure if he is going to be able to help”
You see this particular scar carries with it the worst of memories, it was the moment that my little friend who so joyfully skips across the pavement towards the hospital next to me became an orphan, the moment that the one person in her life who she should have been able to trust… snapped. The moment she looks back to as when everything changed, and now not a day goes by where this beautiful child is not reminded in the mirror, and by questions from friends at school.
“What happened to your face?”
A few hours later, several waiting rooms, some of which turned out to be the wrong ones, about 12 games and 42 pictures on my phone, we were in with the one person in Ethiopia who is capable of doing the kind of plastic surgery required to make this terrible memory fade in to history where it belongs.
“How long ago did this happen?” He asks as he bends down low next to his new patient. “three years ago” She replies through a translator.
He runs his fingers along the scar, moving it back and forth, checking how close to the bone the knife went, and in a few short moments he returns to his feet.
“I can make this look good as new, however she has already proven that she will react with a Keloid reaction and that means after a few months it will look this same way again, likely even worse because there is no radiation therapy in Ethiopia to prevent her body from reacting to the trauma, she needs to go somewhere else, like America or Europe to get this done, and only then will we be sure that the scar will not return”
I can’t even explain what a let down it is to have to explain to this sweet little girl back in the car that she will not be worked on any time soon, we try to tell her that we are going to keep working on this, but that the cost of taking her to another country to get this treatment is far more than we can afford right now. We have another 44 children in seven families to care for, and already committed to opening two new homes, this is not an expense we are prepared for. Of coarse we don’t explain all of that to her, but my mind is already going a hundred miles an hour doing the math of what it will cost if we do decide to get her this surgery in another country.
“We will do our best” We tell her, but the damage is done, she was sure with everything in her little sweet person that she would be free of that scar today. Although she does not cry, the tears are right there at the surface waiting to come out. She opens up the lunch box that her mother has packed for her and tries to distract herself from the disappointment.
In the blog post I am not saying her name on purpose, this little girl is a treasure, and her story his her own to tell, and it is not over. She has been through the worst of trauma, the most painful of struggles, yet she smiles every day of her life, and never stops reaching out to be loved. Her new mother is a gem of a woman, a strong light in this little girls life, and a perfect match for someone who was seen such pain. The two of them are fast friends, and she is already transforming into a different person because of the love and assurance she is receiving in her home every day.
I don’t know yet what our plan is, but we are working on a way to help this little girl get to a place where she can get the surgery and several months of follow up treatment that she needs. We are praying that the resources come in, and that we are able to find a good plastic surgeon who will donate their time to help our sweet little friend.
She is one of the 45 children who came to us from the government orphanage here in Ethiopia, she was placed there when her mother went into jail for her crimes, serving a life sentence she will never be returned to her daughter. Now though we are giving this girl a forever family, she lives with a new mother who is a widow from the local community, a strong Christian woman who is helping this little girl and five others to heal, and together they have become a new family.
A forever family.
We will be working on a plan and hopefully finding a way soon to do the surgery to remove the scar that runs along this sweet little girls face (She is the girl in the polka dot dress in front. You can’t see the scar in the picture here, it runs just underneath her chin and across to her right ear. It is much to painful of a memory for her that I do not feel comfortable posting a picture of the scar on here) Please pray with us that the resources become available when we need them, and that we find a great doctor who can do a good job to help this little treasure.