Facial Surgery Transforms Mechanics Life in Senegal

SENEGAL — At just 21 years old, Papa has already established himself as an exceptional mechanic, pursuing his dream of fixing motorbikes in his community. But when a large tumor began growing from the left side of his face, his dreams for the future became shadowed by fear.But his life was transformed after receiving facial surgery on board the Christian medical ship The Africa Mercy to remove the tumor in Senegal.


My name is Papa. I live in Senegal and I’m a mechanic. Fixing bikes has always been a passion for me since I was a child. I learned mechanics, and once I’d acquired all the skills I needed, I opened my workshop.

I was nineteen when I got the tumor and it’s been growing for five or six years. I heard about Mercy Ships from a friend of mine, who is also a mechanic. I was so confident then I decided to go and they selected me for surgery.


So I met Papa on the unit before surgery. He seemed quiet, but very hopeful. And he always said he was okay. Every time we would ask him several times, because I was like, “Can we make sure Papa is okay?” Because he’s very quiet. He’s not saying much.


I was very scared before the surgery because I thought I’d never wake up after the surgery. I was afraid, but I trusted God and, as a man, I decided I had to do it.



I’ve never seen the degree of tumors that we’re seeing with this patient population. Some tumors are bigger than the patient’s head and they’re hanging off the neck. And we go and resect them and they come looking like a whole different person.


When I looked in the mirror and knew they’d removed the tumor, I felt the weight on my face has decreased a lot, it wasn’t painful, just swollen.


Initially, he did have issues with swelling. But as days progressed, he was a lot more interactive, a lot more active. He would go outside to the patio, he was on his phone.


The day I was discharged, I was very excited to go and see my family.

We are going to my home. I have been away from home for three months.


I cannot imagine how this changes people’s lives. Now they can live more comfortably, they can interact with their families and friends freely without having to feel like they have this stigma of something that’s unusual that lies on their face that everybody’s looking at every time they look at them.


The first change we noticed was his desire to go back to work.


The next day, I went to see my friends at my workshop. I feel like a new person. I have lots of plans, I’ve submitted my driving license. I want to have a car. I want to travel abroad, I have lots of plans. I am so thankful to God for getting me back to work. Thank you so much for everything you’ve 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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