Fatmata first noticed something was wrong with her daughter’s eyesight when Aicha was three months old. She wasn’t reaching for things and responding the way her siblings did, and her eyes rolled around her head as though she is searching for something just out of reach. Fatmata soon realized that her daughter was blind.
Every morning, Fatmata brings little Aicha with her to the market, where they sit for hours selling oranges. Women working in nearby stalls laughed and mocked baby Aicha: “They say ‘look at that baby, look at her eyes, she looks like a little witch.’ says Fatmata. “I told them to stop talking about my baby like that”.
“I never believed what people said about my daughter being a witch, but I knew she was sick. It wasn’t the result of anything I did; anyone can get sick. I was sure that one day I would find the right people, and Aicha would be healed.”
Fatmata’s faith paid off. She heard about the Africa Mercy, docked in the nearby port of Conakry, Guinea, and brought Aicha to see the Mercy Ships screening team.
At the screening, Aicha’s response to the flashlight gave Mercy Ships volunteers hope. Larina Brink (USA), the Ophthalmic Clinical Tenchinician, was filled with hope when she examined Aicha. “I just knew that the surgery would turn out well because of her being able to follow the light as I moved it around,” she said. “My heart was filled with joy to be able to offer her surgery that would open the world up”.
The morning after Aicha’s cataract removal surgery, her patches were taken off – and Aicha’s eyes lit up in wonder as she started to explore the new world around her.
“When they removed the bandages, I saw my daughter as a women for the first time, I saw that everything people said about her was wrong. She was like a new person. She was dancing, laughing, riding the bike. I hope she will grow up and go to school, be a great personality, be able to travel, and be freed from poverty.”
Thanks to dedicated volunteers and generous partners, baby Aicha now has a bright future to look forward to.
“Now…people in the market say ‘Aicha is a new person now, her witchcraft is gone, it’s unbelievable.’ They say it’s magic – but it was no magic. She was sick and now she is healed. I have no words to express how happy I am.”
You can give more children like Aicha something to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. Partner with us today and help bring hope and healing to children, families and communities in Senegal!
Written By: Andrea Gilbert