The teenager who has never been to school

Thirteen-year-old Fadimatou would love to go to school, but until now, her cleft lip has prevented her from doing that. Physically there is no reason why she cannot go to school. The problem is that because of her facial deformity, other kids would tease her mercilessly until she left. They have heard from their parents and relatives that these kinds of conditions are caused by evil spirits, and if they have contact with such a person, they too may be cursed.

We would love to change the way people in Cameroon and many other developing nations view these deformities and educate them about the real causes. However that kind of change in attitudes and beliefs can take years or even generations, and kids like Fadimatou cannot wait that long.

She is one of the lucky ones and Fadimatou receives a free surgery aboard the hospital ship Africa Mercy. Slowly the volunteer nurses start to see her real character unfold, as the shyness caused by years of shame and rejection slowly melts away, a bubbly fun-loving teenager emerges. Fadimatou loves to dress up and pretend she is a princess. Once the scar from her surgery heals, others will be able to look at her, and for the first time really see, this lovely thirteen year old who is beautiful both inside and out!