Hawa Reunited with Mercy Ships Volunteers in Sierra Leone Who helped Save Her Life

SIERRA LEONE — A woman whose life was saved by a surgical charity as a child has been reunited with volunteers who helped her 18 years ago as Mercy Ships returned to her home country of Sierra Leone in a brand-new hospital ship.

At five years old, Hawa’s life was being threatened by a tumour that left her struggling to eat and breathe.

Then in 2005, her father heard about international charity Mercy Ships bringing a hospital ship to Sierra Leone where she could access free surgery.

Her surgery in 2005 was carried out on hospital ship the Anastasis, which was a converted passenger liner that had three operating theatres and was retired in 2007.

At the end of August, Hawa met with the longstanding volunteer nurse Rachel Greenland while visiting the charity’s first purpose-built hospital ship – the state-of-the-art Global Mercy.
After Hawa’s surgery, she decided to become a nurse like Rachel and the other nurses who helped her.


Everybody would lose hope on me. Everybody, my sisters, my mom, my dad. Everything was just swelling up, swelling up. They think that I’m coming to die. Everybody was thinking, “Ah, she’s coming. She’s just waiting for her time to go.” I was scared, so scared at that time. When we get to the Mercy Ship, I was happy. Everybody was coming around me, encouraging me. They said, “Don’t worry, everything is going to be okay.” I said, “Don’t worry, we are going to operate on you. You are going to be fine.” My mum was so happy. She said, “Oh, God, thank you, God, thank you.” She was just celebrating. Even my friends couldn’t recognize me. I said, “Is this Hawa? Is this Hawa?”

If I wasn’t having the surgery, I don’t think I would be alive up to this time. I’m not sure. Maybe I should have been dead and gone long since. From that time, when the operation was made, I decided to look at myself and say, “Wow, you have saved my own life.” And my dad look at me, say, “You have to become a nurse too, so that you can save others’ life as they did for you.” I have to do something and I have to study hard so that I can make more change in my life, so that I will one day walk in the ship. That’s my dream and that’s what I want to do.

I would like to tell the world that if anyone out there is there that is very sick, losing hope, saying like, “I’m not going to make it,” I’m just encouraging everyone that they should not lose hope. Because after God, there’s someone that’s outside there that will help.

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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