Blessing, Liberia 2005


One day Blessing was walking home from school in Liberia, when she fell into a ditch, and her wounded leg rapidly became infected. The local hospital delivered a shocking diagnosis – it was the horrific flesh-eating bacteria noma.

A small cut’s infection was shockingly aggressive; the noma bacteria rapidly spread. Soon the infection was attacking her mouth and began to destroy the 9-year-old’s lips and nose. The penicillin she was prescribed at the local hospital couldn’t halt the disease’s onslaught.

The medical team on the Anastasis managed to squeeze Blessing into an unexpected opening in the 2005 over-full surgical schedule – an answer to her mother’s prayers.

The treatment she received finally halted the relentless infection, but not before it had severely disfigured Blessing’s face.

The Mercy Ships surgeons worked tirelessly to restore Blessing with four surgeries over a nine-month period. Skin grafts were applied to heal her leg wound and amazingly were used to reconstruct her lips and part of her nose. The result was remarkable – Blessing could go back to school and go about her life again. Her Mum said, ‘We were not in any position to afford the treatment needed by our daughter. ‘I continually thank God for His goodness.’

Carys, who grew up on board the hospital ship, recalls meeting the heroic little girl. ‘I met beautiful Blessing when I was 13 years old. It was the first field service of the Africa Mercy, in Liberia. Befriending Blessing paved the way for all the incredible friends and times I would have in the ward over the years.’

There’s something very special about the children of the Mercy Ships crew members, and the friendship they offer the kids recovering on the wards. It’s a beautiful dimension to hope and healing.

After the ship departed Liberia’s shores, Carys and her Mum kept in touch with Blessing and her Mum. A few years ago Blessing returned to the ship for surgery on her leg which had remained contracted still hindered her from walking, even so long after her initial injury. While she was on board Dr Gary, Cary’s Dad, did a follow-up surgery on her lips ‘Since she was hanging around and all,’ explains Carys. Finally, after years of dragging a crippled leg, Blessing had her knee joint straightened and reinforced. She was good to go, top to toe!

Carys lived on two Mercy Ships until she was 18 years old, and still visits her parents regularly. She says Blessing is one of the people who most impacted her life in all her years on board.

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