Life for Sibi Julie had a rough start. She was born with a normal weight, but a bilateral cleft lip made it difficult for her to take nourishment. So, she quickly began to lose weight. Every day was a challenge for Sibi and her mother.
The superstitious West African culture made the situation even more difficult. To keep her daughter safe, Sibi’s mother kept the baby hidden inside her compound. When people saw Sibi’s deformed lip, they said her mother was cursed. Some said that both mother and baby were being punished because of the mother’s sin.
One day, a friend told them that Mercy Ships was having a mass medical screening in Lomé, Togo, West Africa. Daring to venture outside, Sibi’s mother brought the child to the screening. She was did not really believe that Mercy Ships could help, but she was desperate. However, when she saw other children there with the same problem, hope flickered in her heart. To her surprise, Sibi was given an appointment card for a free corrective surgery onboard the Africa Mercy.
First, Sibi was put on the Mercy Ships infant feeding program to help her gain weight before the surgery. It quickly made a difference. “Sibi has gained at least a kilo since I had help and advice about how to feed her,” her mother said as she proudly showed off her baby girl.
Sibi soon became a celebrity on the wards as nurses and day-workers loved to hold her and show her off to the other patients. “I am very surprised they took such good care of us – unlike the local hospitals. Here Sibi and I had fun and have had no challenges,” her mother commented.
Sibi resting on the ward after her surgery.
Now, Sibi’s mother proudly shows her daughter to people – she no longer has to hide in the shadows cast by superstition. “I am so happy with the results! I can now see a new life for my daughter. I am very grateful for this gift. Thanks to the Africa Mercy and crew for how they treated us. I couldn’t have afforded this surgery, but Mercy Ships did this for free. I am very, very grateful!” her mother joyfully exclaimed.
Story by Nicole Pribbernow Photos by JJ Tiziou & Debra Bell
If you know me well, you know I've blogged my way through the last several years worth of adventures; Romania in 2008, Benin in 2009-2011, and Sierra Leone in 2011. Now I'm back to the blogging world with the next great adventure - Mercy Ships Crew! This will be the training center in Texas in September, moving to Guinea, West Africa in October and beyond that... perhaps the Republic of Congo!! (Still up in the air... but oh, so exciting if it's true!) :)
This will be the home of all Mercy Ships related blogging and information, along with fundraising needs, and life while in training and then on the ship. You can still catch me over on krissysnewblog.blogspot.com for personal anecdotes and ramblings on my current state of affairs while transitioning from recovering from Africa to preparation for Africa.
Stay tuned for more information and updates. Feel free to 'follow' this blog if you are a fellow blogger, or set up your RSS Feed to have any updates sent to your inbox. I'll leave the comments 'unlocked' for now, so please know that anything you comment will be public on the blog. For personal emails, please contact me directly at krissyonmercy at gmail dot com.
It's still in progress, so thanks for your patience as I work out the kinks and add more content.