This month I traveled back to Madagascar for a friend’s graduation. You can read his story here. For a quick recap, he worked with me as a translator in 2015. Before the ship arrived in his city, he lost his wife; became a single dad; and was in a pretty bad road traffic accident. Working in the Medical Capacity Building team opened his eyes to the medical world and how it doesn’t have to be about death and corruption. He decided to be a nurse. Some nice people on the ship and at home helped sponsor him through his studies and a few weeks ago he graduated. I traveled across Africa and the Indian Ocean to be there because I promised I would. I left my baby and my Husband and that’s where the story begins…
The graduation was really much the same as mine on the face of things: a black hat, a black robe, unnecessarily wide sleeves, a continual flow of photos and awkward conversations with faces you recognise. There were, of course, some obvious differences: it was 37 degrees; there are a lot more smart phones around than there were 10 years ago; there was a graduation cake with fireworks inside; and the Malagasy have absolutely no understanding of self-service. It was carnage.
Sendra gave a speech on behalf of all the students (he is the popular kid in the class). Very sociable and friendly. He knows everyone’s name and organises a good party. I was already very proud, the fact that he was clearly the head boy, popular and finished fourth in the entire year group (out of over one hundred), turned me into an embarrassing mum version of proud, pushing her way to the front with a loud obnoxious camera.
Being immersed in the final preparations for this graduation made me realise just how difficult the last three years have been for Sendra. He has, at times, attempted to stand against some of the ingrained corruption within the hospital setting and within the university. So to the management, he is less than popular. But I’m proud of that too.
So what’s next?
“I had my plan,
God has his and they are different.”
Sendra explained that he initially wanted to work in the state hospital to make money, but he believes God is calling him to something else.
In the last few weeks of his training, Sendra could no longer afford school fees for his son. He went to the Director of Ivan’s school and asked if he could give English lessons to the kids in exchange for his son’s education. The Director agreed, and during the negations the two men bonded over a common dream. To give their community access to health care. The Director found out that Sendra is qualifying as a nurse. He showed him an empty building and explained the unfulfilled dream:
He built a clinic two years ago and desperately wanted to open a primary health care facility. He has the paperwork and the approval of the officials, but has failed to find health care professionals who would work as volunteers. Until now.
Sendra and his family now have free accommodation on the site where his son goes to school. His son has free education, and the family have been given land. In return he and a Doctor will work without salary, but they’ll set up and manage a new clinic that is empty but alive with possibility. It’s on the edge of the city and will be for those who have no way of accessing health care.
“This is why I decided to be a nurse, to bring hope and healing to the people here. That is what I learnt from Mercy Ships. That is what I must do.”
And so the Day Crew who comes from the paved street in Abolakadimy, who was never a statistic, never in a program plan and never in the budget, has overcome loss and tragedy, corruption and injustice to become a nurse and fulfil his dream to bring hope to those who have no access to healthcare.
The Celebration Duck
After much deliberation we decided to celebrate the graduation with a duck. It tasted Like Victory.
Sendra and I have no videography skills but we are two very grateful people and recorded a message to say a massive thank you to everyone who is a part of this story. Click on the link below to see it.
Poorly shot video – click here