Girl called a ‘witch’ because of her bowed legs gets free life-changing surgery
Life isn't easy for anyone, but when you're born with a disability, it can be particularly tough. Little everyday things that people take for granted turn into arduous struggles. Also, you immediately stand out from 'the norm,' in a society where people often mock those who are 'different.'
Julienne is a 14-year-old girl in Cameroon, Africa. When she was a baby, her mother Veronique, noticed that something was awry: Her legs were bending abnormally. Concerned, she took Julienne to see a doctor, who formally diagnosed her with 'bowed legs.' As you might guess from the name, it's a condition where the knees grow painfully apart.
The simple act of standing became a struggle. Walking was even more challenging, requiring painstaking effort. When she missed the bus, the trek to school took two hours, in the scorching African heat. In an interview with Metro, Julienne reflects, "I used to ask God, ‘Why me, out of all the people in the world?'"
It didn't take long for her to feel ostracized. At home, her relatives rejected her because of her condition. And at school, her classmates mocked her, calling her a 'witch.' But finally, salvation came through the international charity Mercy Ships.
Mercy Ships provides free lifesaving surgeries for people where medical care is nearly non-existent. Julienne's family couldn't afford pay for surgery, so the charity covered all of the costs. "I wished I could tell people [about the operation]," said Julienne. "But I kept it quiet because I didn’t want people to laugh at me if it didn’t work."
Luckily, the operation was a success, although it required several months of intense physical therapy. "It was challenging at times," admitted Julienne's physiotherapist, Meg Crameri. "There were tears and sweat, but it’s obviously all worth it in the end. She’s brave and a fighter."
After making a complete recovery, the doctors allowed Julienne to return home. Thanks to her transformative surgery, she will be able to do all the things other children do, like run, jump rope and climb trees. "Before, I was proud of my daughter," said Veronique. "Every responsible mother loves her child, no matter what their situation is. But now, I am prouder of her than ever because of how hard she has worked and the things she’s able to accomplish."
Julienne is looking forward to the next phase of her life, and thanks everyone for helping her through this difficult period. "This isn’t me anymore – these aren’t my legs!" exclaims the 14-year old, referring to her old pictures. "That girl is not me. I am so happy. God has sent Mercy Ships to Cameroon. It shows me that God has a special love for me. I would have stayed like that for the rest of my life without Mercy Ships."