Welcome, the young man with a comforting name, has always been shy.  His life has changed significantly since meeting The Luke Commission in 2011, but his unassuming countenance has not.

What has changed is a large tumor on the side of his face.  It’s no longer there.  “I am healthy now,” he declared recently at a 2015 outreach.

When Welcome first came to a TLC outreach, he was a boy of 17 years without much future, without much hope.

Welcome knew he was dying. “I just accepted it, and thought I had no choice,” Welcome said recently.

His teacher intervened, since Welcome was reluctant to talk.  It hurt too much to speak; his jaw was so swollen.  “Would the doctor please look?  No one else will help him,” the teacher pleaded.

Welcome had a fast-growing tumor.  It grew so fast, in fact, that while Harry and Echo contacted doctors who might be able to help and others who might be able to pay for extensive treatment, the tumor ballooned.

The VanderWals asked permission from Welcome’s mother to let him live at the TLC already-crowded Manzini campus, so he would be available to leave the country as soon as it could be arranged.

Welcome lived with the VanderWals for several weeks.  Every day the VanderWals pushed and prodded for travel and funding.  Johannesburg, South Africa, six hours away, was the nearest hospital that could perform the surgery and followup chemotherapy.

The tumor on Welcome’s face grew right before the VanderWals’ eyes when he lived with them before his surgery and treatment.

Also, Welcome needed a birth certificate and a passport.  Obtaining birth certificates and passports takes time and the correct documentation, neither of which the boy had.

Meanwhile, the tumor continued to grow, blocking off his airway and making it difficult for him to eat or to swallow.  Through support from the Kingdom of Eswatini, funding was approved.  The very hour his passport was secured, he was transported to Johannesburg by Ministry of Health, Kingdom of Eswatini.

The giant tumor was removed, and extensive chemotherapy was started.  Welcome was gone several months from his rural community where he had lived all his days.  He was homesick; the city was too busy and too big; and he tired of life in the hospital.

But he persevered.

His family welcomed him home, though he still had to return occasionally to Johannesburg for treatment.

Now at age 21, he said he is fine – no pain, no problems.  “My life is better, so much better.”

Today Welcome is a healthy, thankful young man.

Welcome came to a 2015 TLC outreach to be circumcised.  He said, ever so quietly: “I tell everyone about The Luke Commission.  They helped me. ‘They will help you.’  That’s what I say.  And I say ‘thank you.’”

You’re so welcome, Welcome.

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