“I may grow another head if nothing is done to save me…”
A newspaper headline in Liberia captured this cry for help from a 23-year-old girl named Fatu. A growth on her face was slowly suffocating her and causing significant pain — both physically and emotionally. “I’m always sad and lonely because most of my peers and neighbors prefer to keep a distance from me,” Fatu said. “I feel deserted most of the time.”
The growth began after an accident that caused Fatu’s face severe irritation and swelling. Over time, the swelling increased, causing her further pain and affecting her socially. “So many times I was ridiculed by people laughing at me,” she said.
Despite her difficult circumstances, Fatu’s uncle was determined to help her. He had heard of a hospital ship in Sierra Leone, hundreds of miles away, and devised a plan to get Fatu access to the healing she needed. He went to a local newspaper to tell Fatu’s story, hoping someone would help her get to the ship.
Jennifer Ketchum, a Mercy Ships volunteer, read the story asking for donations to send Fatu to the Africa Mercy, and immediately made arrangements to escort her to the ship personally. Fatu was scared by the prospect of the long journey, but she was comforted with Jennifer by her side.
After arriving at the Africa Mercy, Fatu prepared for the surgery that would remove the growth and burden she had carried for so many years. Within days of the successful procedure, the nurses removed her bandages. As Fatu continued to heal physically, she discovered that emotional healing was also occurring, warming her heart and liberating her vivacious personality. “God bless the people of Mercy Ships,” Fatu said with a smile. “I have a life. People no longer laugh at me. They will be admiring me, and I’ll be dancing.”
Soon Fatu returned home tumor-free! Her uncle rejoiced that his niece was healed and could confidently greet each day with a smile.