There is nothing more heartbreaking for a parent than watching their child struggle through basic tasks because of something they can’t control. Ibrahima knows this pain well, from watching not one, but two of his children suffer from an orthopaedic condition known as Genu Varum or bowed legs. This malady, often a result of malnutrition, causes the bones in the legs to bend outwards — making it increasingly difficult and even painful to walk.
For years, Ibrahima prayed for a way to take away his children’s pain, and in 2012 he heard the news that he so desperately needed. Mercy Ships had arrived in Guinea offering to provide safe and free medical care to those in need. During that time, he was able to bring his older son to the Africa Mercy to correct his legs — an answered prayer for Ibrahima.
Unfortunately, for his younger daughter, N’nady, healing was still out of reach. At the time, she was staying with relatives in a remote village deep in the rugged country and wasn’t able to travel to the ship in time for surgery.
Years passed, and while he was grateful for his son’s healing, Ibrahima felt both grief and guilt that he wasn’t able to provide the same for his daughter.
N’nady continued to struggle with her condition, and soon her pain became more than physical. N’nady was teased relentlessly and the mockery she faced caused
Ibrahima even more distress. ‘I fight for her every day. I tell the other kids off for making her cry,’ he said. ‘Everyone teases her.’
While it was difficult to see his daughter in pain, he never gave up hope that the ship would return and that N’nady would have a chance for healing. Six years later, the Africa Mercy returned to Guinea, and N’nady’s family rejoiced.
‘I’m so happy I can’t even eat… I’m so excited to see her healed,’ Ibrahima exclaimed.
The enthusiasm he felt must have been contagious because, after surgery, N’nady shot through her recovery at lightning speed tackling her rehab exercises with the same sweet, shy smile she always wore.
Emma, a physiotherapist from Havelock North, worked closely with N’Nady during her rehabilitation and says, ‘N’nady was a quiet achiever. She did all of her exercises with determination and grace and never gave up. N’nady also loved a hug or was quick with a smile, but when she came to rehab she was there to work and nothing was too difficult. I loved working with her.’
By the time N’Nady and her Dad left the ship to return home, many weeks had passed, yet Ibrahima looked years younger, sharing his overwhelming gratitude.
‘I am forever thankful to have two children healed on Mercy Ships,’ he said. ‘It has changed my family, and changed my life.’
Now, with N’nady’s legs straightened, it is easier for her to walk without being in pain or mocked. N’nady and her father both agree that she’ll be going back to school as soon as possible — although they have different opinions about what comes next. Ibrahima dreams of his daughter becoming a doctor, but N’nady dreams of one day becoming a tailor and making dresses. Whatever she becomes, N’Nady finds joy in knowing that her options are wider than ever.