Faoudou goes to school – at 24

Faoudou has spent most of his 24 years of life feeling a weight constricting his throat, making it hard to breathe. This suffocating burden was the result of a goitre that began to grow when Faoudou was just five years old.

Faoudou tried going to school for several years, before eventually dropping out at a young age because of bullying from his classmates.

His childhood held many difficult battles which were made easier by his mother. She stood faithfully by Faoudou’s side — hoping that he would one day receive the help he needed.

‘She has been very worried about me my whole life,’ Faoudou said. ‘She prays every day for me to get surgery.’

One day those prayers were answered. Faoudou met a woman in the market who told him of a floating hospital ship that would soon be arriving to offer life-changing surgeries to the people of Guinea. Faoudou was so hopeful that he temporarily moved to Conakry to wait for the ship’s arrival — and his chance for a changed future.

After being seen by the Mercy Ships screening team, Faoudou spent months undergoing testing and treatment to prepare him for surgery. Finally, the day came when he was told that he would receive an operation to remove his goitre!

After his free surgery, Faoudou planned to return to school – despite the challenge he would face in the classroom as an adult. While the journey may be difficult, Faoudou is eager to meet those challenges in order to achieve his dream of becoming a doctor.

‘I see a lot of sick people here in Guinea. There are not enough doctors to help everyone,’ Faoudou said. ‘I’ve always wished I could help. I want to learn how to care for people, especially those with goitres. I want to help people with my condition.’

While Faoudou is thrilled about his possible career, he’s even more excited with the knowledge that he will finally be the one taking care of his mother.

‘I want her to know I am really going to be okay,’ Faoudou said. ‘She’ll be very happy to see me come home after surgery. She will say ‘my son is back!’

With the weight of his condition gone, Faoudou is lighter inside and out. When he looks in the mirror now, he sees more than a serious pair of brown eyes staring back at him — more than the absence of a goitre that’s been part of him since his childhood. He sees the face of a man who’s now proud of his reflection, and says, ‘When I look in the mirror… I see myself as handsome.’