Girl Able To Smile Confidently For The First Time After Surgery

A four-year-old girl whose birth defect saw her mother frightened into leaving her at birth has received transformational surgery, thanks to a surgical charity.

When Adama was born in a remote part of central Senegal, West Africa, her mother’s joy at her firstborn was quickly replaced by fear when she saw she had a cleft lip. Believing the condition was her fault and afraid she wouldn’t be able to properly care for Adama, she left the newborn in her parents’ care.

Adama’s grandmother, Binta, battled to feed Adama successfully at first due to her cleft lip, a common issue for many babies born with the condition that can leave them struggling with malnutrition. ​ But Binta kept trying until she was strong enough to survive and despite the challenges, her grandparents never gave up.

As Adama grew, she was afraid to play with other children as they would often look and laugh at her. Instead, she decided to stay close to her grandparents, where she felt safe.

Her grandfather Issa said:

She would always watch us as we did our work. She was always curious and tried to mimic our behaviour to see if she could do the same.

But Adama’s reticence to leave her grandparents’ sides due to her cleft lip was holding her back. Her grandmother had little hope she would find healing one day and had accepted her fate.

Then earlier this year, hope was ignited at the news about international aid charity Mercy Ships and its hospital ship visiting the coast offering surgery. Binta was not sure whether she could trust Mercy Ships, but decided to take a chance, fuelled by a desire to help her granddaughter. ​

She and Adama made the long journey of over 380 miles from their village near Kedougou, across Senegal to the port city of Dakar. After a few appointments with Mercy Ships healthcare volunteers, Binta was thrilled to hear Adama was cleared for surgery [on March 24th 2022]. ​

Adama and Binta boarded the Africa Mercy, where Adama received surgery for her cleft lip. Besides her physical healing, Binta noticed another change in her granddaughter. ​

Binta said:

While we were on the ship, Adama’s curiosity grew immensely. I think it was the people on the ship who helped her to explore that side even more. The crew would often act like children themselves, so Adama would feel comfortable exploring around them.

As Adama healed quickly and fully she also made a new friend onboard, a girl called Aminata also healing from a cleft lip surgery. The girls became playmates, constantly giggling together and pointing at everyone around them. ​

Binta said:

I am so happy. Only God can do this. I thank God and all the nurses and the day crew. Here on the ship, Adama loved playing with the other kids and with the nurses.

When Adama and Binta returned home, their whole community was in awe of the change in front of their eyes. Her grandfather, Issa, had tears in his eyes when he saw that his little girl was healed. ​

He said:

It was a hard time caring for her, but we have always wanted the best for her, and we would never give up on Adama. But now she is healed, and that hard time is behind us. It is time for celebration now!

Written by: Sandrine Gamaury 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *