On the morning of his 20th birthday, Cire celebrated in an unusual way: being wheeled into the sterile operating room of a hospital ship, ready to undergo surgery. It was a moment years in the making for Cire, who was just 16 when a tumor began growing on the right side of his face.
“It (the tumor) wasn’t beautiful. No one would want to have it on their face,” Cire shared.
This opportunity for surgery was one that Cire and his family had prayed for after they had exhausted their savings on medical care to remove a different tumor when he was younger. Without a way to pay for another surgery, they could only wait and hope for a miracle. And as they did, the new tumor continued to grow, and Cire’s confidence waned.
“At this point, we had asked everyone we knew for financial support, they couldn’t help, and we had run out of options. We were constantly praying for help,” Cire says.
In 2019, his father heard about the floating hospitals of Mercy Ships from a friend and encouraged Cire to go for an appointment. Unfortunately, COVID-19 disruptions left Cire waiting for another two years before he could get to the port and board the Africa Mercy.
Once the ship returned, Cire knew it was where he needed to be. Though he lived in eastern Senegal — more than seven hours from Dakar — Cire was determined. In 2022, he traveled the distance.
And a birthday gift like no other awaited! Cire’s surgery took more than two hours — but it went safely and successfully! A few days later, the nurses at the ward threw him a belated birthday party to mark the new year.
“It felt like getting an extra gift,” Cire said. “I was grateful for the surgery, and then they gave me this celebration. I was so happy.”
As an added gift, Cire experienced a smooth recovery. He stayed with his nearby uncle and aunt until he’d recovered enough to travel home. His uncle, Amadou, described the family’s elation at seeing Cire healed: “It’s a joy if someone does something for you that you can’t do.”
His aunt, Dienaba, believes the surgery has given Cire a new lease on life. “I notice after the surgery he is more motivated, he is stronger, he has more hope, and he has more courage,” she described.
Now healed, Cire dreams of becoming a Quran teacher, where he can be part of the very center of society and be a voice of encouragement to others. He’s already begun studying to live out his dreams.