At the age of 15 many girls are conscious of their appearance, but for Mechot the way she looked affected every aspect of her life. Over three years a giant cell tumour had rapidly grown in the roof of her mouth, making eating, speaking or even smiling extremely difficult.

Living in rural Ethiopia and coming from a poor family there was no prospect of surgery for Mechot. As the tumour grew, her father desperately searched for doctors who could treat his daughter. All the money he could afford was spent on rural medicine but sadly this had no lasting effect. 

Eventually he made the decision to leave his daughter with her uncle whilst he travelled to the capital, in search of work and money that would pay for her treatment.

In 2014 Project Harar's outreach workers found Mechot with her uncle and took them to Addis Ababa where our Complex Surgical Missions take place. Initially our surgeons were concerned Mechot’s tumour might be cancerous, in which case we would have struggled to save her.

Having undergone further diagnostic tests, the surgical team anxiously awaited the results. To everybody’s great relief, they came back clear. We could begin our work.

After just two hours of surgery the tumour was removed, with amazing results. A couple of days later, the girl beaming back at us was unrecognisable from the distressed teenager we had first come across.

The final part of this wonderful story was that her uncle had contacted her father about the surgery. As Mechot had her operation, her father arrived at the hospital. Rushing to see her, he wept with joy when he saw his daughter’s face. Hugging her, with tears running down his face he exclaimed that it was a miracle!

Later, Mechot and her father returned to their village with smiles that would not leave their faces. Her surgery was an incredible success. Not only was her face transformed to reveal the beautiful young girl beneath but Mechot and her father had been reunited, their family brought back together once again.

Mechot was just one of 50 patients Project Harar treated in our Complex Surgical mission in 2014. Seeing her with her father reminded us that the impact of our work does not end with an individual’s operation. The surgery we provide can change families too, impacting upon communities and affecting all those people related to our patient and improving all their lives.