Sekouba: A Smile that Shines

On the day he came to Mercy Ships, 12-year-old Sekouba held a weathered picture in his hands. The photograph, with frayed edges and faded color, was of a young boy with an unblemished face smiling brightly at the camera.

“This used to be me,” Sekouba said.

Only two years had passed since the photograph had been taken, but that was more than enough time to steal a large part of young Sekouba’s childhood away. It was just an ordinary morning when Sekouba first noticed a tiny lump in his mouth, no bigger than a button. He showed it to his … Continue reading

Healing for Houleye

Khadiatou watches her 5-year-old niece having fun with her friends. The little girl beams as she chases the other kids around, and although she is out of breath, she doesn’t stop. She doesn’t have a care in the world.

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

“The tumor hurt her so she would quit playing and she’d cry,” Khadiatou said.

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Satou: Walking With Confidence

Satou is a happy, friendly 6-year-old who loves being around people, but unfortunately, her windswept legs caused many in her community to tease and reject her.

“Satou is actually a happy child. She doesn’t like being sad,” her mother, Khady, said. “She is also strong-willed and determined and gets very upset when she feels that she is not respected.”

Khady shared that the constant taunting made Satou feel ashamed and helpless, as though she was always the object of mockery — so much so that whenever she heard someone laughing, she immediately assumed that it was because of her.

Her … Continue reading

Aminata: Freed from Shame

Ousman was excited to receive the call from his sister saying that his niece had finally been born. However, that excitement quickly turned into heartache once he learned that baby Aminata had been born with a cleft lip. When he heard the distress in his sister’s voice, Ousman felt desperate to help both her and her child.

As she grew, young Aminata’s condition began to cause malnutrition, making her body develop very slowly. At eight years old, Aminata’s height and build resembled that of her four-year-old cousins. Because she was ashamed of the way she ate, she refused to eat … Continue reading

A Triumphant Homecoming

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 … Continue reading