Grandma’s Grace

Djimby, orthopedic patient, before surgery.
Djimby, orthopedic patient, climbing the gangway with her grandmother before surgery.

Djimby may be small, but she is nothing short of powerful. The 6-year-old’s strong will and independence come from her grandmother, Ndeye, whose example has helped instill these values into her granddaughter. But, Djimby’s strong personality can’t hide the painful condition that the young girl has had to endure most of her life.

When Djimby was a toddler, her parents noticed that her legs weren’t straight like those of other children. She had developed a condition called windswept knees, which made standing and walking difficult. One day, while visiting the family, Ndeye noticed a distinct difference between Djimby and her siblings and cousins — not only in physicality but also inability. This troubled her deeply.

“I couldn’t watch one of my grandchildren suffer without doing something,” Ndeye said. So, she took Djimby in and vowed to find her healing.

Over the next three years, Ndeye tried to find healing for Djimby but seemed only to reach dead ends. As Djimby got older, Ndeye knew that the time for Djimby to attend school was approaching. She also knew that unless Djimby’s legs were straightened, she wouldn’t be able to go. Djimby would often wake up in a great deal of pain, and since the school was not close to their home, the walk would have been too long and painful.

Despite the setbacks that the two faced, Ndeye vowed to continue her quest saying, “I am healthy, and I can walk. So as long as I am living, I will be looking for a solution.”

Djimby, orthopedic patient, being held by a Day Crew in the ward after surgery.

This perseverance fueled her, even when all seemed hopeless. Neighbors, friends, and even family members urged her to quit, sincerely doubting that there would ever be a solution. But Ndeye refused to stop because her faith in God made her believe that, one day, Djimby would be healed.

The solution that Ndeye had been looking for came in the most unexpected way and when she least expected it. One afternoon, a neighbor stopped by with some incredible news — there was a hospital ship coming to Senegal with volunteer medical professionals providing free surgeries to people who needed it.

A short while later, Djimby and her grandmother were on their way to Dakar, where the Africa Mercy was docked. The capital sits roughly 135 miles southwest of their home, but the journey was well worth it. After Djimby was screened for surgery, she was given a date for the operation. With healing finally in sight after so many years of searching, Ndeye felt more hope than ever!

Djimby, post-op orthopedic patient, doing rehab with Kiwi Physio, Katie Burton.

 

The surgery was just the first part of Djimby’s journey to healing. Months of rehabilitation was needed to maintain the healing achieved in the operating room. Following the example set by her grandmother, Djimby’s focus and determination were unrelenting. Day by day, the tenacious 6-year-old willed her new legs to move forward, one foot in front of the other, until the day finally arrived for Djimby and her grandmother to return home.

Now, following successful surgery and time of rehabilitation, Ndeye believes that her granddaughter will have a more prosperous future. Soon, Djimby will be able to attend school, fully healed, and standing tall for the first time in her life!

“Mercy Ships made me forget about the past two years of suffering,” said Ndeye. “I hope Djimby will transform people’s lives the way Mercy Ships transformed her life.”