Kadidja’s Mercy Ships Story

SENEGAL, WEST AFRICA — When Kadidja was born with a cleft lip, her mother, Ramata, was told they were out of options. The family’s limited resources meant an expensive surgery wasn’t possible. Instead, Kadidja would grow up with a condition that made it harder to eat or leave home without being mocked. It was a mother’s worst fear — but Ramata refused to give up hope and eventually received life-changing surgery on board the Africa Mercy Ships in Senegal.

MelissaAfrica Mercy Ward Nurse:

“Kadijda was one of the cute little ones that came on the ward and had a very strong personality and knew exactly what she wanted. When she came on they tried to give her an outfit that was her gown to wear and she refused. She would not put it on. They had to bring her two other options and she chose the one that she wanted.”

Cleft repair surgery is rarely carried out on babies in West Africa as it requires a specially trained surgeon, an anesthetist and a major hospital and many patients have difficulty paying for the transport, let alone the surgery.

MaimounaKadidja’s Cousin:

“Before Kadidja went to the ship, she was ashamed to go out in public because she saw that she was not like the other children.”

Kadidja’s mother, Ramata, heard from a local doctor that a hospital ships was coming to Senegal.

Ramata Kadidja’s mother:

“When I went to the ship I had no worries. I had only joy. They loved my daughter Kadidja.”

“I think one of the fun things about her was her love for singing and dancing. So when she came in on the next morning before she went to surgery she just started singing the song Bamba Lela and just like screaming it out. So we had a lot of fun playing that song and dancing with her before she went to surgery.”

A week after Kadidja’s successful surgery she saw her new smile in the mirror for the first time.


“There will be a change after the successful operation. She can play with the children and walk in the streets. Now it is a joy. Now that she has been healed on the ship and looks like the other children. I hope she can go to school. Then she can out and play because she has been treated.


“I am so happy today. It’s like I am in paradise. If I didn’t have this microphone on me I’d be dancing, dancing, dancing!”

And Kadidja’s life-transforming surgery is just one of the many being carried out through Mercy Ships in West Africa.

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

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