It was eight years earlier when Charity first met Sylvester. Even back then she strategically draped across her face in an effort to hide the tumour growing around her mouth.
At the time, Sylvester was in the remote Ghanaian village to work on a humanitarian construction project. His heart immediately went out to Charity, but when he offered to bring Charity to a hospital for surgery her family refused, deciding to use herbal medicines to help heal her.
In 2018 Charity saw Sylvester in her village again. The seven years in between had left their mark in the 39-year-old’s life. Charity’s tumour had continued to grow and was now larger than her head. This time when Sylvester he asked if he could like help, Charity bravely accepted.
Charity didn’t know about Mercy Ships and the free surgery that could change her life – but Sylvester did. He was no stranger to the ship, having coordinated for several patients to come for surgery during its 2016 field service in Benin through his organization, VARAS*. He knew how to arrange for Charity to be seen by the surgical screening team to determine if her tumour was operable, and VARAS even helped provide funds for the necessary airfare to reach the Africa Mercy.
Charity courageously undertook the journey to the ship despite having to encounter so many strangers along the way. Her enormous tumour drew curious looks and ridicule at every turn – but she wasn’t alone. Sylvester kindly accompanied her. After spending so long hiding her face from view, Charity wrestled with being seen by others. Having her passport picture taken to get on the plane from Ghana to Guinea took an inspiring amount of bravery —but she crossed every bridge necessary to bring her to healing.
‘She’s been laughed at, and people attach superstitions to her, explained Sylvester. She’s always indoors and told to cover herself. She has had to eat in a separate room from everybody else. I needed to be here with her.’ After spending so long hiding her face from view, Charity wrestled with being seen by others. Having her passport picture taken to get on the plane from Ghana to Guinea took an inspiring amount of bravery —but she crossed every bridge necessary to bring her to healing.
Once on board, even with the burden she was carrying, Charity’s smile was radiant as she met other patients in the Mercy Ship wards before surgery. On the day of her operation Charity was filled with nerves, and so was Sylvester. But soon after her successful surgery, the remarkable Charity was strong enough to get up and walk around the wards. Sylvester was so overcome he couldn’t stand, saying, ‘I was crying because of the shock of seeing her tumour gone.’
Despite the enormity of her tumour, Charity’s recovery was quick and uncomplicated, a blessing they both thanked God for. When her bandages were removed Charity couldn’t help but smile each time she glimpsed her tumour-free face in the mirror.
‘I’m looking forward to being welcomed back. The people who had negative thoughts about me will be surprised,’ declared Charity. ‘They will see that there’s nothing wrong with me, that it’s all been taken away. I am well,’ she stated. But Charity was more than well; she was transformed!
‘The effect of an untreated tumour in her case would be death. Now, Charity’s life is saved,’ reflects Sylvester.
Charity returned to her village where she was greeted by her husband and five excited children. They were amazed by her transformation. She was almost unrecognisable.The friendship between Charity and Sylvester won’t end here. He has arranged for VARAS to continue their support and provide capital for Charity to expand her farmland, they also hope to train her in further options to earn an income.
Charity’s future had once seemed dark, but is once again full of possibilities — and so much joy.
‘She can rejoin her community. We’re thankful to Mercy Ships for this miracle,’ says Charity’s Good Samaritan.
* Volunteers for Amelioration of Rural Areas (VARAS) is an NGO that seeks to help bridge the development gap between rural and urban communities.