Healing for Houleye

Healing for Houleye

Khadiatou watches her 5-year-old niece having fun with her friends. The girl smiles as she chases the other children and, although she is out of breath, she does not stop. He has no worries in the world.

It has not always been this way. Khadiatou remembers a time not long ago when all he did was worry about his young niece. Just a few months ago, Houleye had to bear the weight of a tumor nearly half the size of her face.

“The tumor was hurting him, so he would stop playing and cry,” Khadiatou said.

Sadly, this was normal because life with this tumor was all Houleye had ever known. Having endured it since birth, the young woman had learned to adjust to the physical and emotional implications of her condition.

“It was really difficult for us,” Khadiatou said, remembering the birth of his niece. “We have never seen a baby like this before. We don’t think it would grow up like this.

Not only did Houleye’s condition elicit judgment from others, but as the tumor grew, the mobility of her neck began to suffer. His family worried that there would be even more problems as the lump grew in size, so they desperately searched for a way to remove it.

Unfortunately, removing the tumor seemed out of reach for Houleye and her family. There were times when her family didn’t even have enough to eat three meals a day, so the idea of going to the hospital for expensive surgery was definitely out of the question.

As time passed and Houleye grew older, the tumor began to affect her emotionally. Not only was he physically uncomfortable, but he was also teased and embarrassed. Laughter from other children made her cry.

“We used to send her to the store to buy things, but we no longer do it because the children are too bad,” said Khadiatou.

A ray of hope arose when a local doctor informed Houleye’s family of the arrival of a hospital ship in Senegal. They didn’t believe it at first, but in an act of faith, Khadiatou set out with Houleye to find out if it was true, if healing was finally possible.

Despite making the eight-hour drive to Dakar, it wasn’t until Khadiatou was on his feet on the pier that he finally believed it.

“When I saw the ship, I knew it was God’s doing,” Khadiatou said. “We trust Him and He never let us down.”

Life-changing surgery aboard the Africa Mercy removed the painful tumor; However, Houleye’s confidence began to heal before the operation. He spent time at the HOPE Center, our Hospital Outpatient Outreach Center, where patients stay before operations and during recovery, and little by little he began to come out of his shell. On her first day, the young woman was shy and cautious. But just a few weeks later, Houleye was playing with the other children without making a fool of herself for the first time in her life.

“Before the tumor was removed, I was always worried about her,” said Khadiatou. Now I don’t have to be.

Houleye now plays with the other children in her village in a new way. A tumor-free life means that she is free to be like any other carefree girl.

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