Just a disclaimer: I didn’t write this, it’s an official Mercy Ships publication given to me to use
Mariama met her husband in a village in Sierra Leone, a country in West Africa. They were delighted when their first son was born. Mariama’s husband had a stable job as a butcher, and Mariama took care of the house and her baby son. Life was content.
Then the birth of their second son, Mamadu, changed their comfortable, typical routines into a daily struggle. He was born with a cleft lip. The West African culture is not kind to physical deformities, seeing them as a sign of a curse. As a result, Mamadu was rejected by society. His mother did her best to watch him at all times to keep him safe from mistreatment.
Wide-eyed little Mamadu only knew a life of fear. Apart from his immediate family, his only friend was a toy motor car. He would play with this toy for endless hours every day. It took him into his own make-believe world – where no one called him unforgiving names or kicked dust in his face. At the tender age of fifteen months, his future looked bleak.
But, one day, they received news that could change the course of Mamadu’s future forever. An uncle told Mariama about a children’s clinic in Aberdeen, Freetown. Even though it was a long journey taking several days, Mariama seized the opportunity and took Mamadu to the clinic. The doctor examined Mamadu and then relayed the disappointing news that he was unable to treat the condition.
Mariama tried to conceal her sadness as her hopes began to crumble. However, the doctor then smiled and handed her a leaflet telling her that Mercy Ships could heal her little son, and the ship had just arrived in Freetown.
Mamadu was accepted for treatment at the Mercy Ships screening day. Within a few weeks, the baby boy’s cleft lip was repaired by the world-class medical teams onboard the Africa Mercy.
This hospital ship is unique in that all the crew are professional volunteers from around the globe. They share a desire to walk in the footsteps of Jesus by healing the forgotten poor.
Mamadu’s Muslim family discovered a greater depth of happiness during their son’s treatment by Mercy Ships than they had ever experienced before. When it was time to go home, Mariama shared her determination to send Mamadu to school so that he will one day become a doctor. With a beaming smile, she added, “I am very happy. There is no longer daily stress. I am so thankful to Mercy Ships for what they have done.”
Story by Claire Ross
Edited by Nancy Predaina
Photos by Pre-ops team and Liz Cantu