In a remote corner of the vast South Pacific, several years ago a little girl named Michellin
lay on her bed dying, 80% of her body covered in painful blisters and wounds from a rare
skin disease.
German businessman Tobias Janke cruised through Vanuatu and docked his boat on
Michellin’s island. Hearing of the local girl, Janke’s heart moved with compassion, and
through various connections within Vanuatu, Marine Reach’s Family Care Centre staff
delved into working on her behalf.
Transportation to Port Vila and admission to the hospital comprised just the first steps in an
arduous journey. It was months before Michellin was strong enough to start an experimental
treatment plan to address the underlying disease. Along the way came multiple setbacks but
also poignant victories: the gift of a child’s inflatable pool arrived at the hospital so Michellin
could be bathed; her body began to respond to nutritious food and she started gaining
weight; and eventually this little girl who had lived most of her life in pain and social isolation
began to smile when Marine Reach teams visited the hospital to sing songs and interact with
Through every step of the process, God’s compassion for Michellin showed: from Tobias’s
“chance” discovery, to the Family Care Centre’s reputation for medically serving those in
need, to a visiting pediatrician at the FCC months later, whose stay happened to coincide
with the period of time Michellin was transferred to New Caledonia and started her care
Claire Hodgkins, a long term Marine Reach staff member, recalls the intense season: “The
hospital, nurses, and doctors around the world were working together to get a diagnosis,
develop a treatment plan, and worked with dieticians to get a healthy diet for her. They,
along with a team from Marine Reach, worked with physiotherapists to do exercises to
strengthen her body and have 2-4 hour wound dressings every other day.”
Initially, Claire wanted to turn away; Michellin’s needs were so great and it would have been
easier to not get involved, but Claire shares, “True compassion is looking into the eyes of
those you wish you could ignore, and stepping closer.” And the outcome, in this case, is a
little girl with new hope for her future.