Mabouba’s story –


5 years on!

Mabouba poses on the dock before surgery to remove her facial tumor.

As I recently heard a new ending to Mabouba’s story, I knew I had to share it with you. Now I think about it, perhaps it is best described as her new beginning, what do you think?

It was only five years ago, but a different lifetime, when Mabouba arrived at the Africa Mercy.  That day, no one had any idea what the frail 23-year-old had been through, or how close her brush with death was yet to be.

Mabouba was finishing high school when a tumour that changed everything appeared.

It grew rapidly, and by the time she was 21, the tumour was obstructing Mabouba’s oesophagus and windpipe. “Even in the night you could hear – she was drawing air with great difficulty,” recalled her Uncle Yousef, shaking his head. Unable to swallow more than little bits of rice, eggs and torn-up morsels of bread, Mabouba began to starve.

The family scrambled for solutions but no treatment was successful. With the family’s money gone and her health in shards, Mabouba recounts, “Those days my mind was preoccupied with the tumour. I could think of little else.”

Mabouba was 23 in 2016 when her father discovered the Africa Mercy was returning to Benin. “When I finally stepped onboard, I felt immediately different.” This moment had been six years coming. “I said to myself then, ‘I’m already healed.’”

Nurse Anesthetist Brittany Blake listens to Amidou’s breathing.

But the situation was dire; the benign tumour would be extraordinarily difficult to remove.  “I took courage, though,” recalled Mabouba. “It was their kindness … I had confidence in God and in the team too.”

The morning of surgery, the operating team gathered around Mabouba to pray before begginning. Over the loudspeaker, the entire Africa Mercy crew was asked to intercede for an unnamed patient undergoing a difficult surgery. For nine long hours, there was prayer all over the ship.

As evening approached, Mabouba was wheeled out of the operating theatre. Her tumour was gone.

Five Years Later

Mabouba didn’t think she would live long enough to have a family, but now her daughter is the brightest spark in Mabouba’s life.

A seamstress with her own tailor shop, Mabouba recently married the love of her life. “I used to think I wasn’t beautiful, and that I would never get married… but then I found someone who pursued me! He loves me deeply,” she smiles.

And Mabouba has a message for you.  “If I hadn’t had this operation, I don’t know what would have happened to me. And that’s why I give thanks to those great people who gave me this life. I’m grateful because it is by the grace of God that I am here.”

Thank you for making the world of difference for Mabouba and so many others!