When he only three years old, his legs began to bow outwards, and slowly the glances of his friends and neighbours filled with pity and scorn. His mum felt enormous pressure to find a doctor to fix her son’s legs. “We didn’t have money for that,” Youma said. “So, I stayed home, waiting for something to come from God.”
As he grew older, Diacko stopped venturing far from his home out of fear of being mocked. Even his friends would tease him, taunting him and calling him, “Diacko, the bowlegged boy!”
Often in the evenings, his limbs would ache, and his mother would have to massage the painful muscles in his legs to ease the pain. The winter would affect him quite badly, and Youma would have to encourage him to get out of bed in the chilly mornings.
Due to the lack of medical care in their area, it seemed that Diacko would spend his life in continued pain. Until one day they found hope; Youma saw a television advertisement about free corrective surgery offered by Mercy Ships. At first, I couldn’t understand what it was about,” Youma said. “But, when someone explained to me that a (hospital) ship was coming to Senegal and could provide surgery for my son, I decided to find out more.”
When they discovered that Mercy Ships could help Diacko, his family decided to do everything they could to get him to the ship. “If Diacko did not have this surgery, he would have become stuck,” Youma said. “And as he grew up, he would experience more and more pain.”
Mother and son travelled over 300 miles from their village to where Mercy Ships was located. Soon, Diacko was onboard the hospital ship and meeting other children who suffered from similar conditions for the first time. He learned he was not the only one with this condition!
After the reconstructive surgery which straightened his legs, Diako launched into physiotherapy with earnest determination to strengthen his legs and complete the healing process. Many weeks passed, and sometimes the journey was tough for this brave little boy. But he was surrounded by love and support from his mum and the community onboard the ship. It wasn’t easy, but he would push on through, and every day there would be some improvement in his strength and movement. Youma proudly watched her son’s progress.
Finally, it was time to return to his family, and what a spectacular homecoming it was. Diacko had become a minor celebrity in the village, and Youma believes that his story of hope and healing will be told for decades to come.
“We achieved this dream together,” Youma said. “I was dreaming that he would be healed!”
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