Monday, April 22, 2013

That cute little kid that always ran through our door (uninvited)...

G'day G'day,

The end of the outreach is always bitter sweet. You know you are about to leave soon but you also start finding out the difference you have helped to make.

Little Sakoba is definitely someone who stands out so here is his story written by our writers on the ship...

By the time he was three years old, Sakoba had developed severely bowed legs. A naturally happy and energetic boy, Sakoba adapted well, finding his own gait to keep mobile.

His mother, Kadiatou, often struggled to keep up with Sakoba, due to her own painful hindrance – Kadiatou was also born with legs that bowed deeply in her early years.

Kadiatou and her husband, Mouctar, prayed for healing for Sakoba. Then, according to Kadiatou, something miraculous occurred. “Our neighbor told us that a big hospital ship was examining people in Conakry the very next day. He said that they might be able to help Sakoba.” Kadiatou hastily bundled up Sakoba and one-year old Ibrahim. They arrived at the  Mercy Ships screening site just in time. Sakoba was one of the last children, out of hundreds, examined for possible orthopedic surgery. When Sakoba was given an appointment for surgery onboard the Africa Mercy hospital ship, Kadiatou was thankful to God that her son would have straight legs.

Kadiatou and Ibrahim accompanied Sakoba to the Africa Mercy hospital ship. Mouctar, who suffered from leprosy, stayed home because he did not think he would be allowed onboard the ship. While Sakoba recovered from his successful surgery, Kadiatou basked in the loving environment of the hospital ward. She confided to Marie, a Mercy Ships volunteer, “I am cursed with bad legs, and Mouctar, my husband, is cursed with leprosy. Because we are cursed and useless, our children will have lives of suffering too.” This was not the first time that Marie had heard about the deep fatalistic beliefs that could strangle entire communities.

But Kadiatou’s cloak of sadness lifted as she found unexpected solace in the kindness showered on her, Ibrahim and Sakoba.

She recalls, “For the first time, I felt that Sakoba and I were accepted and included. We did not feel like cripples and outcasts.” When they returned home from the hospital, Kadiatou gave her husband some more good news, saying, “Mouctar, we were wrong to believe that you could not come with us to Mercy Ships. Your leprosy is being treated, and so, as Sakoba’s father, you are more than welcome to come to his appointments.”

Mouctar and Kadiatou were surprised to learn that Mouctar was not an outcast as far as Mercy Ships was concerned. Leprosy struck Mouctar in his youth, but the disease has been halted and is managed with medications through a local clinic. Mouctar was more than welcome to accompany his son to his post-surgery appointments. 

When the family, now including Mouctar, arrived for Sakoba’s follow-up appointment, Marie was there to greet them. Marie started to chat, asking warmly, “How did Sakoba do at home? What business are you in, Mouctar? Isn’t it wonderful that there is now treatment for leprosy? What plans do you have for the family now that Sakoba has straight legs?” 

Kadiatou is delighted that Sakoba’s legs are straight and strong.

Mouctar gazed intently at Marie and replied. “You are speaking to me like I am a human being. You make me believe that I am worth something and that I can give my family a better future.” Mouctar then took a deep breath, and, holding his wife’s hand, he continued. “People tell us that all we are good for is begging. They tell us to give up hope that we can support ourselves. Kadiatou has a good piece of land that she inherited from her mother. People tell us to sell the land because beggars will never have use for land. Before we came to Mercy Ships, I almost believed that. I almost gave up hope and sold that land. But now? Mercy Ships not only healed our Sakoba, but every person here gave us love and respect. You gave us reason to have hope.”

Kadiatou found solace in the kindness showered on her and Sakoba during their stay in the Africa Mercy hospital ship. Kadiatou loved how she and Sakoba were accepted and included, rather than being treated like outcasts. Volunteer Laura Zuilkowski was one of Sakoba’s favorite friends.

Mouctar and Kadiatou are determined to build a self-sufficient future for their family – to turn hope into action. With a small hand up from new Mercy Ships friends, plans are underway to build a modest dwelling for the family on their land. Mouctar is also re-activating his plan to expand his phone card business into selling a full range of telephone accessories. Kadiatou foresees a small business for herself selling foodstuffs like rice, tomato sauce and oil. But, as Kadiatou notes, “That is further down the road. Right now, I have Sakoba with his straight and very strong legs to keep up with and Mouctar, who needs help with all of his activities.”

Written by Joanne Thibault

I will always remember Sakoba as the little kid that always always always ran through our door (uninvited) and greeted us with a warm hug. With his little brother never too far behind. It would never matter how busy we were, he would always run through and dodge everything that was going on and make his way straight to you and give you a hug. I never complained because he is the cutest little kid ever with his little brother not too far behind. His hugs, joy and smile often reminded me of how much God loves us.

Sakoba and his little brother

So what's next,

Trying to get everything done before we leave :)

God is Good and His love endures forever...