Six year old Marie Sylvie was very shy and introverted when she arrived at the Africa Mercy to be admitted to the ships hospital for surgery. When she was only two, a pot of boiling water fell on her badly burning all down the left side of her body. She was one of the lucky ones and despite having no access to suitable medical treatment, she did not succumb to serious infection which is very common in untreated burns.
But the accident left her with terrible scaring and for Marie Sylvie the main problem was not being able to lift her left arm, which was held down by the tissue that had contracted, as it healed itself without medical help. Others around her would tease her because of the deformity and she became more and more introverted, shy and sad. It was difficult to watch this beautiful little 6 year old girl, who should not have a worry in the world, suffer in this way.
The surgeons performed the plastic surgery necessary to release the burn contractures and the ships physiotherapist set to work helping Marie Sylvie regain the use of her arm. As the months went by she slowly regained the use of her arm, but perhaps even more importantly she began to smile, laugh and play.
Unlike in developed nations people in her native Madagascar would not be bothered by the marks on her skin left by the burns because here many people have scars from all kinds of accidents. It was not being able to lift her arm that caused other kids to laugh at her, but now she would no longer have to suffer that ridicule.
By the time her 7th birthday came around she was able to lift both her arms high above her head and had a great time in the physiotherapy tent with the balloons that were blown up to celebrate. It was just wonderful to see the transformation in this adorable 6 year old from a shy, downcast child to a fun loving bubbly little girl who would now have a chance of a decent life without shame.