When Diacko was a baby, others in his village would regularly stop his mother, Youma, just to tell her how beautiful he was. Then, when he turned 3 years old, Diacko’s legs began to bow painfully outward. Youma’s heart would break as the compliments her son used to receive became jeers and taunts. Diacko turned shy and stopped leaving the house. Worse, walking became difficult for him, and every step brought pain.

Often in the evenings, his limbs would ache, and his mother would have to massage the painful muscles in his legs to ease the pain. The cold of winter would affect him quite badly, and Youma would have to encourage him to get out of bed in the chilly mornings.

Youma knew her little boy needed surgery, but there was a lack of medical care in her village, and even if surgery were possible, she could never afford it. Youma feared Diacko would live in pain forever.

“We didn’t have money,” she said. “So, I stayed home, waiting for an answer to arrive from God.”

And thanks to our generous supporters and corporate partners that answer arrived.

When Youma learned Mercy Ships was coming to Senegal, she decided to do everything in her power to get him to the hospital ship, and she did. They traveled 300 miles to reach the Africa Mercy. Once there, Diacko was able to receive the surgery that could finally heal his legs.

“If Diacko did not have this surgery, he would have become stuck in shame,” Youma said. “And as he grew up, he would experience more and more pain.”

While the transformation of his legs brought joy to his mother, a bigger transformation was happening in his heart. Beneath his shy surface, Diacko had a tough and determined spirit waiting to emerge — a spirit that became fully evident after his surgery onboard the ship was over, and his physical therapy began at our HOPE Center nearby.

The HOPE Center is where our patients recover after surgery, and Diacko bravely tackled the exercises he was given by our volunteer physical therapists. Therapy was hard work and took many weeks, but every day Diacko pushed through to meet each challenge with his newfound determination. The whole time he was surrounded by love and support from our community of volunteers.

Finally, it was time for the young boy to go home — and what a spectacular homecoming it was! Seeing his transformation, Diacko had become a minor celebrity in his village, and Youma knows his story of hope and healing will be told for decades to come. We are so grateful for the support that enabled us to be there for Diacko and his mom.

There are many more children like Diacko hoping for help to transform their lives. And these transformations are only possible thanks to the many generous people who support Mercy Ships with their time, prayers, and resources. We are so thankful for their open heart, and for all that they do to further our mission of bringing hope and healing to the world’s forgotten poor. Thank you!