When Mercy first heard about a big white ship that offered free surgeries to those in need, she knew it had her name written all over it – literally.
We met Mercy at our screening in Guinea, so thoroughly exhausted from traveling over 400 km from Liberia that she required urgent medical assistance when she arrived. After she was stabilized and was able to see the screening team, the first thing our volunteers noticed about this quiet 25 year old was the large tumour growing out of her face. The second thing was the sadness behind her eyes.
Mercy has lived a tragic life so far. She lost both her parents when she was young; her mother died giving birth to her. Later in life, Mercy lost both her children to a devastating illness. She fell into a deep depression, and was taken in by a family she met at her local church who helped care for her, though she still felt like an outcast. When her pastor heard that Mercy Ships was coming to nearby Guinea, he was determined to help Mercy get help for the tumour that had been growing on Mercy’s face for the past three years. He contacted a friend in the city, and sent Mercy on the journey.
In rural areas of developing nations, accessing medical care is difficult and expensive. Often conditions that would be treated in early stages in developed nations are left untreated, leading to sometimes life-threatening complications. Tumours like Mercy’s generally start as small lumps in the mouth or neck, and continue to grow without medical intervention. With no money and no medical treatment available, Mercy’s tumour overtook her face, and her life.
Thankfully, Mercy made it to the Africa Mercy and was able to see our screening team. She left the screening tent singing with a surgery date in her hand, smiling so big that the outside volunteers barely recognized her!
“I am so happy to be given a chance, I have been sad for too long”.
After coming to Mercy Ships deflated, defeated and hopeless, Mercy received her free surgery that removed her facial tumour and opened a world of possibilities.
“I would like to find a husband now and maybe one day I will have children. That is possible now that I know I will not die. I am so thankful to Mercy Ships because now I can start again.”
Mercy now has a new life to start, thanks to amazing partners at Mercy Ships that gave her the physical, emotional and spiritual support she needed. Thank you to everyone that has given to the Guinea field service so far and helped bring hope and healing to patients like Mercy.
Written by: Andrea Gilbert