Elvie is a little girl in our hospital ward who asked her mother, “Where is the sun?” The answer?  “It’s on your mother’s face, little girl.”

Elvie’s mother, Noeline, received an appointment card from Mercy Ships. Her daughter, Elvie, would receive free health care – a minor operation, a series of casts, and braces to correct the little girl’s clubfoot.

It’s been a few months since the process started. Noeline’s response has given us a deeper appreciation of a mother’s love.

Noelline takes delight in simply gazing at her daughter. “What makes me proud of her is her face and her smile. When I see her smile, it makes me so happy!” she says.

Noelline has big dreams for her daughter. She wants her to succeed in her studies, marry a good man, and be the best she can be.

Noelline knows her daughter. One day, a nurse made some pyramids for Elvie out of Sponge Bob cards. Her mother saw this and casually remarked, “She’s going to destroy it.” Within three seconds, her prophecy was fulfilled.

And Noeline’s heart aches when something bad happens to her little one. Mothers have a huge super-power – the ability to empathise with their children. And sometimes they feel the hurt even more than their children do.

When little Elvie was born with her left foot forlornly turned in, her mother’s heart learned what anguish was. Noeline says, “I was always sad after her birth. I was really sad every day, and I lost a lot of weight.”

And, like most mums, Noeline was determined to find a way to help her daughter. When the baby was six months old, a treatment was done, but it didn’t work. But Noeline refused to give up and whispered Elvie’s name to God every night.

About two years later, Noeline’s pastor told her about Mercy Ships. “A ship is coming! The people on this ship take care of people with feet problems. As soon as you hear more information on TV or radio, please go to the place that they say. They may help you,” he said.

Noeline quickly responded. “As soon as we had information, we went to the Hospital Manara-Penitra. I was so happy! I hoped that we would be cared for by Mercy Ships. We went to the screening center the very first day!”

You know the rest of the story. Elvie is the star, but it’s also the story of a mother’s deep love and unfailing hope.

If there was a Most Excited Mother Award, Noeline would definitely win. As she watches Elvie, free of her cast, toddling around the rehab tent and doing exercises on beautifully straight feet, Noeline enthusiastically shouts, “Tsara, tsara, tsara!” (Good, good, good!)

And now she has a new dream for her daughter – to become a doctor to give free health care to those who need it. Who knows? Maybe we’ll be hearing stories about Dr. Elvie, the amazing Mercy Ships orthopaedic surgeon, in twenty years!