The year 2020 has certainly been a historical one. Countries worldwide have faced new challenges, and healthcare systems big and small have felt the effects a global pandemic can bring. While these circumstances have taken some people by surprise, the inability to find quality healthcare is nothing new for many of our patients — for those like young Diarga and Gnilane.

For 12-year-old Diarga, a lack of healthcare in his country, The Gambia — a small country located in the middle of Senegal — kept him from finding the healing he needed.

Diarga suffered from twisted legs, which made it difficult for him to keep up while helping his family around the farm. While his strong and resilient character and incredible sense of humor kept the boy in good spirits, his family worried about his future — until they learned about Mercy Ships.

From the very moment he arrived at the port, Diarga’s easy smile began winning the healthcare volunteers’ hearts. After a successful surgery, the young boy started the long rehabilitation process, but soon he was standing tall, with all new confidence. 

His aunt, Seynabou, was thrilled, saying, “God came to meet our prayers.”

  Now healed, Diarga’s future looks brighter than ever. He is eager to see how his new legs will perform on the soccer field and even dreams of going professional one day. 

Gnilane first noticed the growth on her face when she was 15 years old, but thought it would go away on its own. Over the years, the bump continued to grow, becoming painful and causing her to lose focus easily, which resulted in her quitting school. 

“That decision was so difficult,” she said. “I didn’t want to abandon my studies, but I felt I had no choice.”

For Gnilane, a future without surgery meant a life unable to pursue her dreams of an education — until she found hope!

Onboard the Africa Mercy, Gnilane received the surgery she needed and is now ready to return to her studies with her head held high.  

“This surgery is really changing my life,” she said. “I have a lot of dreams, including the one of being a doctor, thanks to Mercy Ships!”

You can continue to read Diarga’s and Gnilane’s stories in this fall’s issue of Waves of Mercy. These stories of transformation and hope would have been impossible if not for the dedication of our volunteers and partners — people like you.

Now more than ever, people around the world understand the importance of health and the impact a strong medical system can have — and in addition to providing free surgeries, your support helps Mercy Ships strengthen healthcare systems in every nation we serve.

Thanks to partners like you, we were able to provide more than 1,400 surgeries and train over 1,190 local medical professionals during our time in Senegal. We can’t wait to return! And with the upcoming launch of our new hospital ship, the Global Mercy, we will be able to do twice as much to help even more people!  

The need is great, but together, we can make a world of difference to the many people living in areas without access to safe healthcare. Everyone deserves to experience the power of true healing, and thanks to your kindness, women like Gnilane and children like Diarga can now face their future with renewed hope. Thank you for your compassion!