Ernest’s eyes speak of a pain and sorrow beyond his 27 years. A facial tumour had been growing for over a decade, and he spent his young adult years hiding from the world, simply waiting to die. ‘I was making everyone uncomfortable, so I would just stay home in bed all day, alone with my suicidal thoughts,’ he explains
When he heard about Mercy Ships, he knew he had nothing to lose. He said goodbye to his wife and five- year-old son and made the two-day journey alone. ‘Many men from my village have tumours, but they were too scared to come to the ship. They told me I would die,’ he said. But he knew they were wrong … this was his only chance to save his life.
By the time Ernest arrived at the hospital ship, he was dangerously ill, and his tumour was bleeding. Mercy Ships doctors admitted him for a life-saving blood transfusion. A local ENT surgeon assisted with Ernest’s case.
When Ernest’s condition stabilized, he received what five billion people around the world are unable to access – safe, affordable and timely surgery. As Ernest recovered physically, he also recovered emotionally – changing from a withdrawn, sad man into a confident, optimistic man. His new outlook on life was reflected in the light in his eyes.
Volunteer nurse, Kirsten Murphy monitored him the first night he was admitted and witnessed his transformation. ‘I remember his persistence. I remember his new-found hope. I remember the huge grin that spread across his face post-surgery when he realized he was handsome!’
Now, Ernest returns home to be the man he’s always longed to be – the husband he feels his wife deserves and the father he wants to model for his son. ‘Before, life was very difficult for me. I can’t wait to go back to my village and show those who doubted that Mercy Ships has given me new life.’
After more than 10 years of carrying a physical and emotional burden, Ernest is free! ‘When I came here, my life was already over. Now I have everything in front of me.’
Story by Georgia Ainsworth