Diacko was a handsome baby. In fact, the other villagers would often stop his mother, Youma, while they were out to tell her how good looking her little boy was. Then, when he was about 3 years old, his legs began to bow outwards, and slowly the admiring glances became filled with pity and scorn. Soon, the compliments that Diacko once received turned into repeated pressure to find a doctor to fix her son’s legs.
“We didn’t have money for that,” Youma said. “So, I stayed home, waiting for something to come from God.”
As he grew older, Diacko quit venturing far from his home out of fear of being mocked. Even his friends would tease him, taunting him and calling him, “Diacko, the bowlegged boy!”
Often in the evenings, his limbs would ache, and his mother would have to massage the painful muscles in his legs to ease the pain. The winter would affect him quite badly, and Youma would have to encourage him to get out of bed in the chilly mornings. Due to the lack of medical care in their area, it seemed that Diacko would spend his life in continued pain until they found hope! One day, Youma saw a television advertisement about Mercy Ships.
“At first, I couldn’t understand what it was about,” Youma said. “But, when someone explained to me that a (hospital) ship was coming to Senegal and could provide surgery for my son, I decided to find out more.”
When they discovered that Mercy Ships could help Diacko, his family decided to do everything they could to get him to the ship.
“If Diacko did not have this surgery, he would have become stuck,” Youma said. “And as he grew up, he would experience more and more pain.”
Mother and son traveled over 300 miles from their village to where Mercy Ships was located. Soon, Diacko was onboard the hospital ship and meeting other children who suffered from similar conditions for the first time. He was not alone!
After the operation, which straightened his legs, he underwent physical therapy to heal and strengthen his legs. Many weeks passed, and sometimes the healing process was tough for this brave little boy, but he was surrounded by love and support from the community onboard the ship.
Diacko tackled rehabilitation and the exercises he was given by the physiotherapists with earnest determination. It wasn’t easy, but he would push on through, and every day there would be some improvement in his strength and movement. Youma watched her son’s progress and thanked the rehabilitation teams onboard the ship for their diligence with Diacko.
Finally, it was time for the young boy to go home, and what a spectacular homecoming it was. Diacko had become a minor celebrity in the village, and Youma believes that his story of hope and healing will be told for decades to come.
“We achieved this dream together,” Youma said. “I was dreaming that he would be healed!”