Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sibi Julie comes out of the Shadows

Sibi Julie Comes Out of the Shadows






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

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