‘King’ Baba’s Journey to Hope in Senegal

SENEGAL — Meet Baba, one of the graduates of the Mercy Ships Food for Life sustainable agriculture program in Senegal. Or, as he was more commonly known by the other students, “King Baba.”He earned the nickname because from the top of his class, the 19-year-old peanut farmer used his energy to lift others up. Baba’s path was different from that of the other students. Before he started his training, he overcame massive burns that limited the use of his arm. It was only after a free surgery on the Africa Mercy that he was ready for a new future in sustainable agriculture.

Medart AguegueFood for Life program manager:

“I see that agriculture has been left behind. Many people don’t see its importance. Everyone thinks that agriculture is for the poor. But it’s important to share our experience to promote agriculture.”

Food for Life has trained more than 800 people in nine countries since 2007. The 22 week course helps community members become independent growers and distributers of healthy, nutritional products.

“People think it’s the only medical field that Mercy Ships works. Mercy Ships also brings hope and healing through agriculture. My name is Medart Aguegue. I am the manager of the Food for Life program. We are in Beersheba for a 22-week training. This training focuses on nutritional agriculture because humans must have good nutrition.

“Before eating good nutrition, we must produce good foods that will give us good health and prevent diseases.”

Eliphaz EssahFood for Life Director:

“The Mercy Ships program is also each year evaluating how we better serve communities that we are working with. And so that’s the reason why we are training people that are young entrepreneurs. So this year we have one of the young patients that has been treated by Mercy Ships in 2019. His name is King Baba.


“Baba is called affectionately King Baba.”

Jean-PierreBaba’s Classmate:

“Wherever he goes he is called King Baba because he is like a king.”

TackoBaba’s Classmate:

“He is like a king and he embodies the Senegalese lion.”


“He is like a king. We see that he does not let his handicap bother him and he does everything in order to bring joy everyone he is, even in hope of the class. He encourages his classmates.


“At first there were people who called me King but it was not so popular but when I came to Beersheba, they called me King. Because I used to make everyone feel comfortable and didn’t want anyone to get angry.”

At a young age Baba disfigured his right hand during a terrible accident in which his arm caught fire.


“When my parents took me to hospital they only treated the sores on my hands. If you don’t have any money you can’t get the quality care you want in Senegalese hospitals. In addition there wasn’t much medical equipment.”

In 2019 Baba came to the Africa Mercy to receive free reconstructive plastic surgery.

Katie TannerVolunteer Nurse:

“When I met Baba his hand was essentially folded back on his arm and it was like his fingers were sliding down his hand and his arm. He didn’t have any function with it. He could only use his right hand. So we released his skin right here and folder it back so that it was straight and he could have movement again.”


“Before I could not do many things in the fields but when I did the plastic surgery in Mercy Ships, I can do many things like being able to attend this training in Beersheba.”


“It took five months training with the Mercy Ships Food for Life program. And today Baba has successfully completed the training. Throughout this training we have seen a gentleman that is really dedicated, motivated you know with skills, with eagerness. You know we see high motivation for him to be part of this training.”


“I see that agriculture has been left behind. Many people do not see its importance. But it’s important to share our experience to promote agriculture so that everyone benefits from our training. So I send a message to all disabled people like me. Don’t get discouraged, stay motivated. Have the courage to initiative knowing you are equal. You have to believe in yourself and tell yourself ‘I’m going to get to the top.'”

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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