Cire watches her five-year-old son Babacar run around the neighbourhood. For the first time in his short life, he can be a carefree little boy, playing with the other kids. As he lifts his shirt, to show his friends his tummy, Cire smiles. She has waited to see her baby boy run free in public for his entire life. Now that she no longer has to hide him from the world, she is also enjoying every moment.
When Cire was pregnant with Babacar, an abnormality in his development occurred. Her son was born with a mass of tissue connected to his sternum and dangling from his chest. The new mother was first confused and then ashamed.
People claimed she had birthed a monster. They blamed her for her son’s deformity. And worst of all, they rejected her son.
Then, when Babacar’s father died, they were left to fend for themselves. Cire did everything possible to keep her son’s condition a secret. She told Babacar never to show his stomach to anyone and dressed him in loose-fitting clothes to disguise the appearance of the growth. She kept family members from hugging him. She even planned to keep him out of school for fear that people would find out.
Cire tried to find healing for her son, but she only reached dead ends. It was a complicated condition that would require a complex surgery — one that was not available where they lived.
“It was difficult for me to eat and sleep,” Cire said. “I was constantly worrying about my son.”
Then Cire found out about a hospital ship providing free life-changing surgeries that would be arriving in Dakar, Senegal.
“The arrival of Mercy Ships was a blessing,” Cire said.
Little did she know that this blessing would extend beyond the gift of free surgery and that the miracle of healing would begin on the ship, even before Babacar received his operation.
“I remember Babacar’s mom commenting on how we saw and loved her son,” said Brittany Garrelts, one of Babacar’s nurses. “That love and acceptance began to heal her before we ever operated on her son; it wasn’t the same as how most people treated him. You could see her smile bloom the more time she spent with us.”
Although Babacar’s stay with Mercy Ships was a short one, it was nothing short of life-transforming.
‘There is no more fear; no more shame; no more having to hide.He is free — and so am I!’, Cire says