New Mercies: Diarra
mercy-ships-podcast-new-mercies-episode-91-diarra

Joy for the Future

This is the month of Advent when we reflect on Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. We will be sharing stories of God’s miracles that have changed the lives of four very special people. In December you will get to hear about the lives that have been transformed by the love of Jesus, shown through Mercy Ships volunteers. 

This week we focus on Diarra’s story that brought JOY. Diarra was a young teenager when she experienced a toothache. Then a small bump formed in her mouth and soon that bump became a growing tumor. For many years she searched for help until she heard about Mercy Ships on the radio.

Joy came when Diarra received free surgery that removed her tumor and opened the doors to live out her dreams.  In this episode you’ll hear Diarra’s story of searching for help, her supportive family, and the gift of joy that came not only to her, but to her husband and daughter as well.

Looking for a way to join our mission of bringing hope and healing? Partner with us through a giftvolunteering with us, or by joining us in prayer.

New Mercies Podcast Transcript

Welcome to the New Mercies, a podcast by Mercy Ships where we’ll take you behind the scenes and on board our incredible hospital ships that are transforming lives all over the world. We invite you to join us each week to be inspired and encouraged by stories of life-changing hope and healing. I’m your host, Raeanne Newquist and this is New Mercies.

For 25-year-old Diarra, stepping into the operating room of the Africa Mercy was a moment more than ten years in the making. She had been looking for healing for a facial tumor for almost half her life.

Diarra had been to so many doctors who could not offer her any hope of healing, but now on board, she was filled with joy that her burden was about to be lifted.

She couldn’t recall when the tumor began to grow. All she remembered was being a teenager and experiencing a toothache that led to a small growth. From there, it just kept getting bigger.

Diarra’s parents took her to several hospitals. Each visit was a step in an uphill battle, made harder by their financial difficulties as small-scale farmers. The medical costs were so high, it forced them to choose between caring for their other children or seeking healing for their daughter. Eventually, they had to stop looking.

The days blended into years, and the tumor remained. There were so many things that Diarra had to give up, like activities that she was unable to do because of her tumor.

Years later, joy came when Diarra met and married her husband. By then, she knew her condition required surgery, but the couple faced similar financial challenges that her parents had. Diarra had pretty much given up and resigned herself to a life with the tumor.

Even more joy came when she gave birth to her daughter. Becoming a mother was a lifelong dream. Yet the joy of motherhood was soon overshadowed by the fear that she would not live long enough to see her daughter grow up. Diarra had a new sense of urgency to find healing so she could take care of her daughter.

In 2021, Diarra heard through the radio that Mercy Ships would return to Dakar after a break due to the COVID pandemic. The announcement said they would give free surgeries for people with tumors like Diarra. The news ignited a spark that became a beacon of possibility. Diarra clung to hope with unwavering determination.

Preoperative appointments revealed that Diarra had a rare, non-cancerous tumor that began in the cells forming the protective enamel lining on her teeth. Without surgical intervention, such tumors continue to grow and could block the airways, preventing breathing and eating.

Dr. Josh Wiedermann, a Mercy Ships volunteer surgeon from the United States, explained that in higher-income countries, such cases could be caught early during routine dental examinations.

Because Diarra hadn’t been able to access timely and affordable healthcare, what started as a toothache had escalated into a significant tumor. Following the appointment, she was approved for free surgery on the Africa Mercy.

Diarra lived far from the ship, and traveling for the surgery meant leaving her daughter for the first time. But the thought of finally receiving help made her seven-hour journey possible.

Once at the ship, Diarra was filled with joy as relief poured out of her. She had prayed for so long and searched everywhere for help and now her longing was about to be fulfilled.

Because the tumor was rooted in her jaw, part of her jawbone was removed, and a metal plate was inserted to recreate the profile of her jawbone. She would need to heal for up to three months before receiving a second surgery to replace the metal with her bone.

When the Africa Mercy left Dakar in 2022, Diarra wasn’t yet ready for a second surgery, so she was asked to return to the Global Mercy in 2023.

When Diarra had returned home from her surgery, she said her daughter couldn’t stop touching her face! While she was on board, she had regularly called home to her husband and he said “You cannot imagine how happy I am. We have lost so much money to that disease, and we never got surgery.” But Mercy Ships brought joy into his life too as his wife was now healing.

The follow-up surgery on the Global Mercy was far less daunting for Diarra. Her family could not believe that she got not one but two surgeries. They were all so happy that they cried tears of joy.

Diarra now feels free to pursue her dreams of starting her own business. Because she is no longer burdened by the tumor, she yearns to embark upon a journey of entrepreneurship. But most importantly, she’s free to look ahead to a healthy future where she can watch her daughter grow up and this has filled her whole family with immense joy.

In the Bible it says that weeping may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning. A life with Jesus is never hopeless. Even in the midst of hard things, there is always hope that God is at work making all things new in us for our good and His glory. His great love for us and desire is to exchange our tears for joy and that is exactly what He did for Diarra.

May you know deep joy because of God’s great love for you. Merry Christmas!

For more information about Mercy Ships, go to mercyships.org, and to keep up with the guests and stories on New Mercies, follow us on Instagram at NewMerciesPodcast.