M’Mahawa was forced to develop a unique way of putting shoes on her five-year-old daughter, Kadiatou, who suffered from clubfoot and twisted hands.
The loving mother of five would sit with her fragile daughter on her lap, securing sandals to the little girl’s feet with some makeshift string and knots. Without the complicated ties, the shoes would slip right off the girl’s tiny feet. Neglected from birth and now twisted almost beyond recognition, Kadiatou’s condition made her walk on the bridges of her feet instead of the soles.
Without the ability to wear shoes correctly, Kadiatou suffered from the extreme elements of West Africa, with constant wet feet during the rainy season and cracked and sore skin during the dry season. In addition to the pain that her condition caused, little Kadiatou’s hands and feet also caused her to fall behind when trying to keep up with her friends.
“She’s as energetic as her brothers and sisters but cannot do as much,” M’Mahawa said. “She cannot walk far without cutting herself.”
Scared her daughter would spend her life trailing behind, trying to catch up, M’Mahawa was thrilled to hear about a hospital ship coming to Conakry, Guinea. She jumped at the opportunity to visit with the nurses onboard the Africa Mercy to see if Kadiatou was eligible for help. When her daughter was approved for surgery, M’Mahawa was excited that her little princess would finally receive the help she needed.
Now, more than eight months after her first screening appointment, Kadiatou walks proudly on the soles of her feet no longer fearful of unnecessary cuts and scrapes.
“I now have peace about her future,” M’Mahawa said. “I believe she will have better opportunities in life now that she is not outcast. She will get an education and be married!”
Still very young, Kadiatou may not fully remember every aspect of her surgery and her reason for being on the ship. But, what she will remember is how to tie her shoelaces on her own pair of shoes, which are able to fit her feet!
Written By: Georgia Ainsworth Edited By: Andrea Gilbert