It was no surprise that nine-year-old Adam Zidane loved playing soccer. He was born on the same day as a 2009 Champions League match, and was named after the famous French soccer player, Zinedine Zidane. Nothing brought his father, Abdoulai, more joy than watching Adam play the sport they both loved.
But when Adam was just five years old, he received treatment for malaria, where an accident with the IV drip in his lower leg caused swelling and infection. As a result, the muscles in his ankle became rigid and contracted. The injury cost Adam the ability to walk properly, run, and — worst of all — play soccer.
Desperate to find help for his son, Abdoulai spent more than he could afford on local doctors. When doctors told him that amputating the foot was their best option, his search for another way to help his son intensified.
Running out of hope, they scheduled the amputation for six months later. Heavy-hearted, Abdoulai and Adam believed this was the only way. When the family heard that Mercy Ships would be sailing into Cameroon, they registered him for surgery, but their hopes were almost nonexistent.
Just a few months before the scheduled amputation, however, they received news that Adam had been selected to receive surgery on the Africa Mercy! A volunteer surgical team would operate on his leg to straighten the contraction, and another team would conduct physiotherapy to help him regain mobility.
Adam and his family were ecstatic! “When we got the call from Mercy Ships that he was selected to come to the ship, it was a celebration in our home. Everyone was so happy!” said Abdoulai.
Now, not only would Adam be able to keep his foot, he would be able to walk, run, and play soccer once more!
After several surgical procedures and skin grafts, Adam’s leg was finally freed from the contracted position that forced him to walk on his heel for over three years. He and his father were overjoyed, and Adam’s bright, friendly
personality was back on full display.
He used crutches for several weeks following surgery, and he smiled the whole time — even through his discomfort. “I’m very happy to see my little frog hopping around on his crutches,” said Abdoulai. “I didn’t think I’d ever see that sight.”
It took several long months of physiotherapy for Adam to walk normally again, but with the help of the rehabilitation team, Adam’s once-unreachable goal was in sight. He came to the ship almost every day for exercises that stretched his ankle and helped him re-learn to walk in newfound freedom.
Finally, Adam returned home able to walk with two feet on the ground — a sight his community had not seen in years.
And their joy was more than just celebrating Adam’s return; they were celebrating the new future he had ahead of him!
“Before, he couldn’t play with his friends, he found walking difficult, and he couldn’t go to school every day as it was two kilometres away,” said Abdoulai. “Now he’ll be going to school every day and will walk with his five brothers. He loves to play ball every day, climb trees, and go swimming.”
Soon, Adam will be playing his favourite sport again! As he kicks up the red dirt in his village, every movement will be a testimony of the courageous hope that healing brought to Adam and his family.
Written by: Rose Talbot