When Binta brought her four-year-old granddaughter Adama to Mercy Ships for a cleft lip surgery, the mother shared her deep gratitude.  “We are so grateful to be here, and that Adama will be able to go to school healed. The village that loves her already will accept her even more, and for that we will forever thank God and Mercy Ships.” As the little brave girl walked up the gangway of the Africa Mercy, they hoped her journey to hope and healing would not only impact her, but her whole family and community in Senegal. 

Binta with granddaughter, Adama

Four-year-old Adama is filled with curiosity. “There is nothing Adama doesn’t find fascinating, she is drawn to all things,” said her grandmother, Binta. Coming from a farming family, Adama’s biggest joy is harvest time, when she and her family get to visit the market and she meets many new people. Even with her cleft lip, Adama loves to make others smile. 

Binta and Adama arriving at the Africa Mercy

While Adama was recovering from her life-changing cleft lip surgery on board the Africa Mercy, the 4-year-old grew more and more curious. “I think it was the people on the ship who helped her to explore that side even more. The crew and day crew would often act like children themselves so Adama would feel comfortable exploring around them,” laughed her grandmother, Binta. Thanks to the love and fun of the volunteers on board, Adama experienced healing that went far beyond the physical.

Medical Volunteers on board the Africa Mercy with Adama

You’ve got a friend in me! While Adama was recovering from surgery to repair her cleft lip, she made a new pal on board the Africa Mercy. Her newfound friend, Aminata, was also recovering from a cleft lip surgery. This beautiful friendship aided in recovery for both girls as together they giggled, played, and interacted with everyone around them. Thanks to this bond, Adama’s healing went smoothly — and was so much more fun! 

“I am so happy,” smiled Binta when her granddaughter, Adama, was discharged from the Africa Mercy after a successful cleft lip surgery. Binta was especially relieved that the 4-year-old would be fully healed by the time she started school. Freed from fear for her granddaughter’s health, Binta felt hopeful about Adama’s future — including the career and family she might have someday.

Adama healed from her cleft lip surgery waving goodbye to the crew of the Africa Mercy!

Adama had to wait until she was 4 years old before she could smile with confidence. It was a free surgery from Mercy Ships that helped bring her to that place. Adama was born with a cleft lip and grew up afraid to play with other children. They would often stare and laugh at her. She also grew up without her parents, as her mother gave her up at birth because of her condition. “Children like Adama, in our culture, most of the time, are hidden. They don’t interact with outside people. They don’t often express themselves,” explained Salimata, one of the Senegalese crewmembers who cared for Adama on the Africa Mercy.

Adama is just one of over 600 patients whose lives have changed on board in 2022 so far in Senegal. Salimata explained, “The surgery—that impact is so important in their lives. After the surgery, if you see them, you see the difference. You see them smile and laugh.  That is a great satisfaction.”

Adama at home in her village

A cleft lip presents both biological and social challenges to people afflicted with the congenital condition. For Adama, she had trouble eating as a baby, then she had trouble making friends as a toddler. At four years old, Adama’s life changed course when she boarded the Africa Mercy. The volunteer surgeons of Mercy Ships performed a life-changing operation in Senegal to heal the little girl’s mouth.

Your support can make surgery possible for many more potential patients like Adama.  Learn more about how you can get involved in changing lives! Email us on: info.zaf@mercyships.org or give us a call on: 078-839-9985

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