Walking through adversity to a new life

Abel was mocked numerously because of his deformed legs.
Abel was mocked numerously because of his deformed legs.
On board the Africa Mercy, Abel is slowly recovering with his father by his side.
On board the Africa Mercy, Abel is slowly recovering with his father by his side.
An intimating visit: the president of Togo meets little Abel
An intimating visit: the president of Togo meets little Abel
Abel back in his village, with his family... and with straight legs!
Abel back in his village, with his family... and with straight legs!
The future of Abel is looking bright!
The future of Abel is looking bright!

Growing up with backwards legs, 11-year-old Abel refused to let deformity stop him from being a goalie.  Now, with straightened legs, Abel stands ready to face new goals in life!

Abel had a normal early childhood until an injection seemed to cause some muscle problems. His parents noticed he had difficulty learning to crawl. While his muscles stopped growing, his bones did not. As a result, the weak musculature in his legs began to bend them backward at the knee, forcing his upper thighs out behind him. His parents took him to three different doctors, but none knew what to do for him.

Despite his condition, the resolute Abel learned to lean forward, correcting his balance enough to walk, climb and do just about anything any other active boy can do. He even became the goalkeeper on his soccer team. Sadly, he couldn’t ride a bike, since it required sitting straight on the seat and pushing down on the pedals. Abel’s physical deformity made him the target of ridicule. But he remained optimistic thanks to his joyful spirit and the love of his parents.

One day, Abel’s family heard a radio announcement about a Mercy Ship coming to Togo, offering free surgeries. Abel’s hopeful father took his son to an orthopaedic screening in the capital city of Lomé.

A few days later, Abel awoke after his first surgery onboard the Africa Mercy, with his left leg straight out in front of him, wrapped in a cast! As he admired his newly straightened leg, he asked his dad if his right leg would also be straight after the next surgery. His father assured him that it would.

And a second surgery did straighten his right leg. He also had a third procedure - plastic surgery on his knees. Through the round of surgeries and post-operative care, Abel’s sparkling personality and brilliant smile earned him many new friends among the crew an