Aicha was the first child for her newlywed parents — a joyous start to their family! But, when Aicha’s mother became sick shortly after giving birth, their joyful celebration was put on hold. Three months later, Aicha’s mother passed away, leaving behind a devastated husband and newborn baby. Following her mother’s death, baby Aicha was taken in by her Grandmother, Mymoona.
“That was a very dark time for us,” Mymoona said. “My son was grieving the loss of his wife, and we had to try and take care of Aicha.”
Without her mother’s milk, Mymoona did the best she could to feed her granddaughter with what they had available. She even made trips to the local hospital to get advice on how to feed her without breastmilk. Despite their attempts to provide a normal life for the girl, the two soon realized that Aicha was not growing at the same rate that she should, her legs were becoming bowed due to malnutrition.
By the time she was due to start school, Aicha was still learning to walk instead of learning how to read and write. With her legs bowed at 45-degree angles, each day was a struggle and a painful reminder that she was not like other little girls — school was not an option.
“We did not know if there was anything to help her,” Mymoona said. “We tried taking her to the local hospital, but they said that they did not have the equipment to do anything about her legs.”
So the two continued to pray for a solution, never giving up hope that one day Aicha would receive the help she needed.
“We never gave up because you never know how help is going to come to you,” Mymoona said.
For Aicha, that hope came in the unexpected form of a traveler in their village who was trying to learn their tribal language.
“When he saw Aicha, he told us about a ship that was taking patients like her and that we should go,” Mymoona said.
With a glimmer of hope restored, Aicha’s father took his precious little girl to the screening site to meet the volunteer nurses from the Africa Mercy. After her screening, Aicha was selected for the surgery the family had longed for.
Having been an integral part of Aicha’s life from the very beginning, it was Mymoona who accompanied her granddaughter to the ship and celebrated in the work that was being done around her saying, “What Mercy Ships is doing is very good, and we want them to continue so that others might be helped.”
A few months after surgery, grandmother, father, and daughter stood side by side — three generations together speaking a thousand words of love, compassion, support, and a willingness to never give up. Aicha now proudly walks alongside her father and grandmother — a reminder of the wife and daughter lost but never forgotten.
“If Aicha’s mother could see her right now, she would be very happy because, despite Aicha’s bad luck in life, she has received the help she needed,” Mymoona said. “Thank you!”