Salematou is 26 years old and lives in Freetown, Sierra Leone with her two daughters. Two years ago, her husband died, and soon after a small tumour began to grow on her face. Beginning as an infection in her upper jaw, the tumour caused significant pain and discomfort. Salematou went to the dentist and a doctor to seek treatment, but she was told they couldn’t help her – that there was nothing they could do.
Salmatou’s tumour kept growing, and the pain increased. She had to drop out of nursing school and eventually stopped leaving her home entirely. She didn’t even want her daughters to see her. The tumour made it difficult for her to speak clearly and eat, and was beginning to affect her left eye. She felt helpless, with nothing to do but watch the tumour grow and try to ignore the pain it caused.
Then, Salematou heard that Mercy Ships was coming to Conakry, Guinea, and she knew this could be her only chance to find hope, healing and happiness. She travelled by bus for 7 hours across the border to reach the ship, and thanks to amazing volunteers and generous partners, she was admitted for surgery!
“Mercy Ships has come to bring hope and healing to the people who need it, and I am so thankful. I am so happy to have had surgery. I feel beautiful…I feel good…I feel hopeful”
Now, Salematou has left the Africa Mercy, fully recovered after her final appointment to remove a necessary nasal tube in January. She has now gone home to Sierra Leone, excited to see her daughters (and let them see her)!
Healing complete and hope restored, happiness is now seen on Salematou’s face in place of her tumour. She plans to return to nursing school as soon as possible, and can’t wait to help give others hope and healing like Mercy Ships partners gave her.
The Maxillofacial Program often treats children with cleft lips and palettes in addition to oral conditions like facial tumours and nomas. Learn more about the Maxillofacial Program and how it transforms lives.
Written By: Andrea Gilbert