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The Boy with the Strong Spirit: Serigne’s Story

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In a village in northwest Senegal, the name Serigne holds great significance. It resonates with leadership and authority. Many people and establishments proudly bear this distinguished name throughout the village, symbolizing a belief in their potential for greatness. This means that 6-year-old Serigne is in good company. His father, Abdou, says he deliberately chose the name because he foresaw a future of influence for his son.

Senegal

A six-year-old boy who developed severely bowed legs, when his twin brother did not, has been able to go to school after a surgical charity repaired them.  Serigne’s legs started to bow when he was a toddler, while his twin Fallou’s remained straight.  When he was two years old, his parents noticed he took longer to walk, and when he did, he struggled. 

Mercy Ships Celebrates Lasting Impact in 2023

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Mercy Ships provided 3,295 surgeries for patients like Malang in 2023. Of those surgeries, 1,437 took place on board the Global Mercy™ during field services in two ports – Freetown and Dakar. The ship served patients from three countries – Senegal, The Gambia, and Sierra Leone. This work was only possible thanks to more than 1,318 skilled volunteers from over 67 countries, including 660+ Senegalese, Gambian, and Sierra Leonean national crewmembers.

Senegalese health minister praises Mercy Ships’ partnership ‘considerable contribution’ on international stage

Gratitude for Mercy Ships’ work was publicly shared at the joint Third Congress of the Senegalese Society of Pediatric Surgery and the Ninth Congress of the African Society of Pediatric Surgery in Dakar last week. Secretary General of the Ministry of Health and Social Action Professor Habib Ndiaye acknowledged the lack of pediatric surgeons in the country and thanked Mercy Ships for helping to tackle the very high demand for child orthopedic surgeries.

Mother’s relief as daughter given life-saving surgery by charity Mercy Ships

A mother who lived in fear her daughter’s fast-growing tumor would suffocate her is rejoicing after a surgical charity gave her daughter life-saving surgery.  Without a single maxillofacial surgeon in her home country of Sierra Leone, Yei had no one who could treat her daughter.  While she was pregnant, Yei had no ultrasound, and no reason to think her baby would be born anything but healthy. When she first saw the lump on her baby’s face and neck at birth, she felt devastated. 

Finding Light in the Darkness: Umu’s Story

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Have you ever met someone whose eyes dance when they talk? That’s the very first thing everyone notices when they encounter 3-year-old Umu. Her aunt, Fatmata, has always been amazed by Umu's effortless ability to make friends, regardless of where she goes. “She’s a very brave girl,” Fatmata shared. “She's intelligent. She’s a fast learner.” But although this contagious joy is Umu’s trademark now, it wasn’t always this way. Her birth came with an unexpected twist as she entered the world with a benign tumor growing from the side of her face and neck. This was a shock to her mother, Yei, who’d had no reason to expect anything other than a healthy baby girl. Seeing her firstborn with the growth was utterly devastating.

Life-changing Healing for Samba

After 56 years with a cleft lip, it took just a two-hour surgery to change Samba’s life and unleash his God-given potential.   Samba, a widower with four children, worked as a cattle farmer in rural Senegal, where he faced discrimination due to his lifelong condition.  He had grown used to his cleft lip drawing unwanted attention. Physical attacks were so commonplace that Samba couldn’t guess how many times they had happened. 

The Future Holds Great Promise: Diarra’s Story

For 25-year-old Diarra, stepping into the operating room of the Africa Mercy® was a moment more than a decade in the making. She had been looking for healing for a facial tumor for almost half her life.  “I feel so good inside my heart,” she exclaimed about her opportunity for surgery. “I have been to many different doctors, but they couldn't heal it.”  She couldn’t recall when the tumor began to grow. All she remembers is being a teenager and experiencing a toothache that led to a small growth. From there, “it just kept getting bigger.” Diarra’s parents took her to several hospitals. Each visit was a step in an uphill battle, made harder by their meager earnings as small-scale farmers. Medical costs loomed large, forcing them to choose between caring for their other children or seeking healing for their daughter. Eventually, they stopped looking. 

Healed After 27 Years: Coumba’s Journey

Coumba was at her family’s farm on the day that her life changed forever.  “Our mother used to cook with fire,” she said. “It was a big farm, so my mother would start a fire in one place, then go to another. My little brother was playing by the fire, got too close, and started to burn.”  At just 4 years old, Coumba rushed in to save her brother as the fire grew.  “I fell on my left side, so I burned there,” Coumba said. “My brother was then crying a lot, which my mother heard, so she came to us, but I was already entirely burnt on my left side.”  With her left arm fused in a bent position and her hand damaged, Coumba adjusted to life with only one functional arm and hand. She grew up to marry, work as a maid, and raise three children on their rice and vegetable farm in northern Senegal. Coumba longed to take care of the farm herself, like many other women do in Senegal, but her limited range of motion made this dream impossible.  After decades of living with a bent arm, surgery on the Africa Mercy® meant that at the age of 31, Coumba’s life was about to change. 

‘The Gifts Within’: Hamadou Finds Hope

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Hamadou was 4 years old when he came to the Africa Mercy® in Senegal. By then, he had learned to cope with the physical limitations of his cleft lip, a gap in his upper lip that impacted his ability to swallow and eat, as well as how his teeth were growing. But the cleft lip continued to hold him back socially, even within his own family. People in Hamadou’s community drink their water from a large pot that they share with other members of their household, as well as any guests. “People would not want to drink from the same water pot as him,” said his mother Hawa. While Hamadou was isolated in some ways, his mother was always by his side providing constant support.