Aicha was the first child for her newlywed parents. A joyful start for your family! But when Aicha’s mother became ill shortly after giving birth, the joy of celebration was left in the air. Three months later, Aicha’s mother passed away, leaving behind a devastated husband and a newborn baby. After the death of her mother, little Aicha was taken in by her grandmother, Mymoona.
“That was a very dark time for us,” said Mymoona. “My son was mourning the loss of his wife, and we had to try to take care of Aicha.”
Without her mother’s milk, Mymoona did her best to feed her granddaughter with what they had available. She even made trips to the local hospital to get advice on how to feed her without breast milk. Despite their attempts to provide a normal life for the child, the two soon realized that Aicha was not growing at the rate she should, her legs were bowing due to malnutrition.
By the time she was due to start school, Aicha was still learning to walk instead of learning to read and write. With her legs bent at 45-degree angles, every day was a struggle and a painful reminder that she was not like other girls: school was not an option.
“We didn’t know if there was anything that would help her,” Mymoona said. “We tried to take her to the local hospital, but they said they didn’t have the equipment to do anything with her legs.”
So the two continued to pray for a solution, never losing hope that someday Aicha would receive the help she needed.
“We never gave up because you never know how help is going to come to you,” Mymoona said.
For Aicha, that hope came in the unexpected form of a traveler in her village who was trying to learn her tribal language.
“When she saw Aicha, she told us about a ship that was taking care of patients like her and that we should go,” Mymoona said.
With a ray of hope restored, Aicha’s father took his precious girl to the triage site to meet the volunteer nurses at the Africa Mercy hospital ship. After her examination, Aicha was selected for the surgery the family had longed for.
Having been an integral part of Aicha’s life from the beginning, it was Mymoona who accompanied her granddaughter to the ship and enjoyed seeing the work being done around her saying, “What Ships of Hope is doing is very good, and we want them to continue so that others can be helped.”
A few months after the surgery, grandmother, father and daughter were united, three generations together sharing words of love, compassion, support and the will to never give up. Aicha now walks proudly beside her father and grandmother, a reminder of the wife and daughter lost but never forgotten.
“If Aicha’s mother could see her right now, she would be very happy because, despite Aicha’s bad luck in life, she has received the help she needed,” Mymoona said. “Thank you!”