Sibi Julie – Cleft lip

Sibi Julie Comes Out of the Shadows

In a way, life for Sibi Julie began in darkness. She was born at a normal weight, but a bilateral cleft lip made it difficult for her to stay nourished. Shortly after being born, she quickly began losing weight. Simply getting through each day proved to be a challenge for Sibi and her mother.

Superstitions in Togolese culture made the situation even more difficult. When the people of their village saw Sibi’s deformed lip, they said that her mother was cursed. Some even said that both mother and baby were being punished for the mother’s sin. To keep her daughter safe, Sibi’s mother kept the baby hidden inside her compound.

Life continued in hiding, until a friend told them that Mercy Ships would be holding a mass medical screening in Lomé, the capitol city of Togo. Daring to venture outside, Sibi’s mother travelled to the screening site. She really did not believe that Mercy Ships could help, but desperation drove her to try. Arriving in Lomé, hope flickered in her heart when she saw the crowds and the other children with cleft lips waiting to be seen. To her mother’s surprise, Sibi received one of the precious appointment cards for a free corrective surgery onboard the Africa Mercy.

Sibi was dramatically underweight, requiring that she be put on the Mercy Ships infant feeding program to help her gain weight before surgery. It didn’t take long to see a difference. “Sibi has gained at least a kilo since I had help and advice about how to feed her,”her mother said as she proudly showed off her baby girl.

Her infectious new smile gave Sibi a celebrity status on the wards as nearly all of the nurses and day-workers loved to hold and play with her. “I am very surprised they took such good care of us – unlike the local hospitals. Here Sibi and I had fun and have had no challenges,”her mother commented.

No longer haunted by superstition, Sibi’s mother proudly shows off her daughter – she no longer has to hide from the shadows cast by the fears of her neighbors. “I am so happy with the results! I can now see a new life for my daughter. I am very grateful for this gift. Thanks to the Africa Mercy and crew for how they treated us. I couldn’t have afforded this surgery, but Mercy Ships did this for free. I am very, very grateful!”