Daouda’s Life-Changing Mercy Ships Journey in Senegal

SENEGAL — While on board the Christian medical ship The Africa Mercy in Senegal, Hamady repeatedly called his friends back home to tell them that his son Daouda had been healed. No one could believe it until he sent a picture. After all, Hamady had already tried unsuccessfully to have Daouda treated at several hospitals before coming to Mercy Ships in Senegal. Local hospitals weren’t equipped to handle the complexity of his case, but the medical team on the Africa Mercy could.

Hamady admitted that he wouldn’t have believed the transformation himself if not for seeing it with his own eyes. He recounted about his family’s response, “That day, nobody went to sleep in our house. They were clapping their hands and celebrating!”

Mercy Ships International Chief Medical Officer Dr Mark Shrime picks up the story.

We screen about 25 to 30 patients in a day on our screening days. So I remember, I mean, he came into his screening day, he had a tumor, and he, honestly, we see a fair few of these tumors. Really, Daouda started to kind of imprint himself on my memory because of his story, because of hearing his dad tell the story of the tumor itself and also what he had to go through to get care.

HamadyDaouda’s Father:

Daouda’s condition, They started a long ago, more than ten years now. He had spend almost five years where he didn’t even step out of the house. He dwelt in the house. 

His father talked about, as the tumor grew, Daouda became more and more reticent, more and more shy, because people stopped kind of addressing him, stopped looking at him, started looking at his tumor.


However, I am doing my utmost to have him healed. I have been everywhere with him.

They live in a town in Senegal, on the border between Senegal and Mali. So about as far away as you can get from Dakar, the capital of Senegal, something like 500, 600 kilometers away. He went to hospitals, health posts near him. They couldn’t take care of this.


There is no hospital that I haven’t visited. I have visited all of the hospital in Dakar. 

He said, “There is nobody on the road “between Mali and Dakar that doesn’t know my son.” As part of this eight-year process to get care for his son, he spent the equivalent of about $10,000. If you take the average salary in Senegal, that would be just about six years of salary.


With the hospital, I have spent a lot of money.  At the same time I heard the ship is coming. When they sent us to the ship, that is when I started to breathe in peace, that is when I started to have a feeling this time it is going to work. When the disease started, it was a tiny node there. In the bush we tried our little massages, rubbing and massaging. Everything but it didn’t help. It continued to grow throughout time. 

His tumor started just like any tumor would here in the U.S. His was a benign tumor, which is why it could grow unchecked for eight years. As these things grow, yes, they aren’t cancerous in that way, but they start to interfere with how you eat, how you speak, how you look. If you or I got that small lump and noticed it in our face, we would be in the doctor’s office the next week. We would take care of this and the fact of the matter is that’s exactly what Dauda’s dad wanted to do also. He wanted to take care of it too. It’s just that we have access in a way that he doesn’t to that care.

When the tumor is removed, they realize, “Oh, this thing that I’ve had for eight years, 20 years, 30 years is gone.” And there is a transformation, especially in the kids, in the way that they start to interact with the rest of the world.

So we cut out his hair in the OR because we were going to initially bring a muscle down as a flap so that we could fill the bone that we took out But because the surgery went so well, we didn’t need to so now we just need to reshape all of his head off to make him look like the perfect guy that he is.


I said the boy has been healed. They said it is not true. Even for myself it was striking. When I see it it amazes me, this makes me so happy. 

Also, the transformation is in his father, too. Like, the actual excitement that he had, he said, “Everyone on the road from my village to Dakar knows my son. I cannot wait to bring him back on that road so they can see him and see what happened to him.”


Now if he goes to the village, he will go everywhere, he will be roaming over there. And they will see him. 

And this is why I love it. Surgery is more than just cutting and sewing. It is all that, but because we cut and sew, you’re able to restore to patients a seat at the table of humanity that their tumor took away from them.


Personally, I thank you for what you have done for me.

About Mercy Ships

Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class healthcare services, capacity building, and sustainable development to those with little access in the developing world. Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 55 developing countries, providing services valued at more than $1.7 billion and directly benefitting more than 2.8 million people. Our ships are crewed by volunteers from over 60 nations, with an average of over 1,200 volunteers each year. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, healthcare trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills. With 16 national offices and an Africa Bureau, Mercy Ships seeks to transform individuals and serve nations one at a time. For more information click on www.mercyships.org.

CONTACT: Diane Rickard, Int’l Media Relations Manager, Mercy Ships, Diane.rickard@mercyships.org

Read more news on Non Profit / Faith Based Organizations, and Medical Ministry on Missions Box.

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