“Everyone deserves a happy ending.” ~Jodi Picoult, Author
Juldo happily pedals his bike across the dirt in front of his home. He grins ear to ear and talks about his dreams of becoming a mechanic. Juldo is only ten years old, but has had to endure more pain than anyone should experience in a lifetime. This sweet boy spent his formative childhood years as the subject of ridicule and shame from not only his neighbors and peers, but also from those meant to protect and nurture him.
When Juldo was born, he was the first child to his mother and father. But the sight of his feet, twisted inward from clubfoot, distressed his father so much that he abandoned the family. Left to fend for herself and her child, Juldo’s mother sent him to live with his grandparents so she could work on a cassava leaf farm.
For a decade, Juldo’s family did not consider that treatment would ever be possible, even though they were familiar with the birth defect. Juldo’s cousin was also born with the condition and was treated surgically. However, the cost of the operations meant surgery was not an option for Juldo. He has spent most of his days hiding in the house. He would rather be invisible than endure the relentless torment and name-calling from the children in his village. His inability to find shoes to fit his feet meant community gatherings and family events carried on without him.
One fateful day, a community worker was visiting the region and spent time with Juldo. To his family’s surprise, the worker told them that free clubfoot treatment was available at the MiracleFeet-supported clinic in Tamatave. Juldo’s grandmother immediately started the journey to get care for Juldo–one that included a 90-minute walk on foot followed by a ride in a bush taxi. Despite the treacherous trip, the family has not missed a single appointment. After several rounds of casting, Juldo’s improvements are nothing short of amazing.
There is no more hiding, no more shame. Juldo beams with pride and gleefully pedals his bike down the road. He is even able to play his favorite sport, football, something he had never dreamed of before now.
We want to wish all of our friends, followers, and supporters a Happy New Year – may it be full of smiles and new beginnings!