Young Mansare lives in a neighborhood tucked away in the port city of Conakry, Guinea, where he loves to play with his hoard of older brothers. But despite his fun-loving and active personality, four-year-old Mansare’s childhood has always been a little different than everyone else’s, due to his bowed legs.
Mansare’s condition has always made it hard for him to keep up with the other boys, whether it was running, climbing trees, or playing football.
A four-year-old boy should be too young to feel self-conscious and ashamed, but the comments and stares Mansare received while out in town made him feel different than everyone else.
Young Mansare dashed around the dock, his frayed sandals flapping as he ran and his laughter bringing a smile to his mother’s face.
“Look at him. Look at him walk,” his mother, Simone, said. “He can really play now. Before, he would get tired and come back after ten minutes because the other kids would laugh at him. Now, I have to go find him at the end of the day and bring him back home because he’s so happy to be out playing.”
The sight of an energetic little boy running and playing may not be remarkable to many, but it’s one that Mansare’s family has always hoped for.
Mansare grew up with a condition known as “bowed legs,” — an ailment often caused by an underlying disease, like rickets, and worsened by malnutrition. The four-year-old has only known life with his orthopedic condition, which has made walking and running an exhausting challenge.
After years of watching the small boy struggle with his limited mobility, Mansare’s family were excited to hear the news that he might be able to finally find healing. Simone brought her son to the Mercy Ships screening day, where approximately 6,000 others had gathered in hopes of being seen by volunteer nurses.
From outside the gate of the compound, Simone saw a large crowd and didn’t know if they would be able to get through. However, Mansarre — plucky despite his young age — slipped through the gate and into the compound. He waved at her from the other side, saying, “If you can’t get through, I will go and stand in line!”
Once she got inside, Simone found Mansare standing in line by himself, unafraid, waving her over to join his spot. “He has always been brave like this,” she said.
On the day he climbed up the gangway of the Africa Mercy to receive surgery, Mansare’s smile said it all. He wasn’t nervous about surgery — he was excited to go on another adventure!
This bravery continued throughout Mansare’s time with Mercy Ships. After he received surgery, Mansare spent weeks recovering and relearning how to walk. But, even sitting in casts for several weeks couldn’t keep a smile from his face, and after starting the physiotherapy program, Mansare was up and running.
“He loves his new body so much,” his mother said. But Mansare’s change goes much deeper than appearances. Now, it’s a challenge to keep him still, and his confidence and joy spill out into everything he does. Mansare seems like a new boy, inside and out.
Mansare went through many weeks of rehab sessions with the help of volunteer physiotherapists like Rosie Fortun Agud from Spain.
“Surgery has changed our life. He’s happier; I’m happier,” Mansare’s mother, Simone, said. “He loves himself more. He’s more confident now. He can really play now. Before, he would get tired and come back after 10 minutes because the other kids would laugh at him. Now, I have to go find him at the end of the day and bring him back home because he’s so happy to be out playing.”