Little Saliou was born with a cleft lip, limiting his ability to get enough nutrition. As he grew, so would the problems caused by his condition.
When Saliou’s Grandmother, Ndiane, heard that the Africa Mercy would be docked in Senegal, she was determined to get her son to the ship. When they arrived, her prayers were answered: little Saliou was admitted as the first patient of the 2019-20 Senegal field service!
“When I heard about the ship’s arrival, I was relieved,” Ndiane said. “Then I made the decision to stop everything and bring him, because this will impact his future.”
Once onboard, Saliou’s contagious smile and laugh brought joy to everyone he met. Volunteers in the wards loved keeping Saliou company while he waited for the Maxillofacial surgery that would change his life.
Maxillofacial surgeries are some of the most common procedures that Mercy Ships volunteer surgeons perform. The Maxillofacial Program mainly treats young children born with cleft lips and palates. These conditions are more than just aesthetic issues – having a cleft lip and/or palate can drastically limit a child’s ability to eat, and can have devastating consequences on growth and development.
After surgery, Saliou spent lots of time playing with nurses and other crew on deck 7 as he recovered. His energetic spirit shined from the moment he stepped onto the ship until the moment he left.
“I give thanks to God and the people at Mercy Ships” Ndiane expressed. “I didn’t have anywhere to get surgery for Saliou and they did that for me.”
Saliou is now heading home after receiving the free surgery that has changed the course of his life. He may not remember our loving volunteers – but they surely won’t forget him!