When 7-month-old baby Aissata was born with a cleft lip, her future looked hopeless. The joy felt by her mother, Hassanatou, at Aissata’s birth was soon overshadowed when she realized her daughter had a cleft lip – and her fear deepened when the condition made it difficult for her to get enough nutrition.
Terrified her daughter would become malnourished and grow up being mocked by her community, Hassanatou sought help for her daughter. As fate would have it, it was not long before her prayers were answered – she heard on the radio that the Africa Mercy was docked in Conakry, Guinea, and accepting patients with conditions like Aissata’s.
After traveling over 200 miles with her mother to reach the ship, Baby Aissata was admitted to the Africa Mercy hospital ward and scheduled for surgery.
“I have always been very worried about her future and what would happen to her if I didn’t get her the surgery she needs,” said Hassanatou. “But now that she has come here to the ship, I am no longer worried.”
On the day of Aissata’s surgery, the ship was buzzing with excitement. Not only was an adorable baby going to receive a life transforming surgery – the operation would be the 100,000th surgical procedure performed by Mercy Ships volunteers.
Thanks to caring partners from around the world, baby Aissata was given hope, healing and a future her mother feared would never be possible. For Mercy Ships, the milestone represents and important part of a 40 year legacy. For baby Aissata, the free surgery changed the course of her life.
Written By: Andrea Gilbert