Djimby may be small, but it has greatness. The 6-year-old’s strong will and independence come from her grandmother, Ndeye, whose example has helped instill these values in her granddaughter. But Djimby’s strong personality can’t hide the painful condition the young woman has had to endure most of her life.
When Djimby was a little girl, her parents noticed that her legs were not straight like those of other children. He had developed a condition called genu valgum, which made it difficult for him to stand and walk. One day, while visiting the family, Ndeye noticed a clear difference between Djimby and his siblings and cousins, not only physically but also in their disability. This troubled her deeply.
“I couldn’t watch one of my grandchildren suffer and do nothing,” Ndeye said. So he took Djimby in and vowed to find a way to heal her.
For the next three years, Ndeye tried to find a way to cure Djimby, but seemed to reach a dead end. As Djimby grew older, Ndeye knew the time was coming for Djimby to attend school. He also knew that unless Djimby’s legs were straight, he couldn’t go. Djimby often woke up in a lot of pain, and since the school was not near his home, the walk would have been too long and painful.
Despite the setbacks the two faced, Ndeye vowed to continue her search, saying, “I am healthy and I can walk. So as long as I live, I will look for a solution.
This perseverance nourished her, even when all seemed lost. Neighbors, friends and even family members urged her to resign, sincerely doubting that there would ever be a solution. But Ndeye refused to stop because his faith in God made him believe that, one day, Djimby would be cured.
The solution Ndeye had been looking for came in the most unexpected way and when he least expected it. One afternoon, a neighbor stopped her with some incredible news: there was a hospital ship coming to Senegal with volunteer medical professionals providing free surgeries to people in need.
A short time later, Djimby and his grandmother were on their way to Dakar, where the Africa Mercy was docked. The capital is more than 200 kilometers southwest of his home, but the trip was worth it. After Djimby was examined for surgery, she was given a date for the operation. With healing finally in sight after so many years of searching, Ndeye felt more hopeful than ever!
The surgery was only the first part of Djimby’s journey to healing. Months of rehabilitation were needed to maintain the results achieved in the operating room. Following his grandmother’s example, Djimby’s focus and determination were relentless. Day by day, the tenacious 6-year-old wished for her new legs to move forward, one foot in front of the other, until finally the day came when Djimby and her grandmother returned home.
Now, after successful surgery and time spent in rehabilitation, Ndeye believes her granddaughter will have a brighter future. Soon, Djimby will be able to attend school, fully healed and upright for the first time in her life.
“Mercy Ships made me forget the last two years of suffering,” Ndeye said. “I hope Djimby transforms people’s lives in the same way that Mercy Ships transformed their lives.”