Posted on Mar 16, 2012 at 09:00 am
Chapter 1From a young age, Radiatou Boukari learned about loss. When she was only four years old, her mother abandoned her and left her with her father. At the age of 10, things became even worse when she started having pain in her gums. The painful spot quickly turned into a lump. As her deformity became obvious, she was shunned by everyone . . . including former friends.
In 2010, Radiatou’s father heard about Mercy Ships from a radio program. He was excited about the possibility of helping his daughter. Sadly, when they finally made it to the port, the Mercy Ships hospital ship, the Africa Mercy, had already left.
When they arrived back home, they learned that Radiatou’s grandmother had died while they were gone. Radiatou felt even more isolated as she started spending more and more of her days hidden away from the world. Even though she struggled with depression, her father was always there to cheer her up.
In January 2012, Radiatou was devastated when her beloved father passed away. She was alone and terrified. A great-aunt, whom she had never met before, came to take Radiatou home with her. Distraught about losing her father and only caregiver, Radiatou attempted suicide, but her great-aunt stopped her. That night, like many others, Radiatou cried herself to sleep.
The next day, a man came to visit Radiatou. He had heard that Mercy Ships had returned to Togo! What a difference a day makes! Within one day, Radiatou went from having no will to live . . . to having an abundance of hope. Radiatou was able to attend the mass medical screening in Lomé. After waiting for five years, she finally found someone to help her.
Radiatou grew close to some of the Mercy Ships crew while at the screening. They even went to her home a few days later to visit her. One crewmember assured Radiatou, “You will not go through this alone. We will be there every step of the way.”
Those comforting words were a lifeline that gave seventeen-year-old Radiatou new courage. After being abandoned, banished, and orphaned, Radiatou arrived for surgery with hope for a new life and an eagerness to meet new Mercy Ships friends.
Chapter 2 to follow.
Written by Nicole Pribbernow
Edited by Nancy Predaina
Photos by Debra Bell and JJ Tiziou