Thursday, May 24, 2012

Radiatou - Part 2

     After years of waiting, the time had finally come for Radiatou to have surgery. Radiatou suffered from a large facial tumor that had been growing for years, causing her to hide in the shadows of life. Now she was onboard the Africa Mercy, waiting anxiously on her hospital bed – knowing that in the morning her world was going to change forever.  While crew members talked to her and prayed with her, she was constantly moving, filled with so much energy and excitement she could no longer contain it.
     Twelve hours later, Radiatou was wheeled into one of the hospital ship’s operating rooms to have the tumor removed. The surgery was complex, and Radiatou required a couple of pints of blood, which were donated by the crew, to help sustain her during the long procedure. Mercy Ships volunteer surgeon Dr. Luer Koeper was able to remove the tumor successfully, taking away the mass that had shattered Radiatou’s life.
      Radiatou spent a couple days in the ICU to ensure she did not need more blood transfusions. During this time, Radiatou’s new friends, crew members she met on screening day, came and visited her several times a day. Every time, Radiatou would reach out to hold their hands, giving a sigh of relief and falling asleep with her supportive friends surrounding her. Before long, Radiatou was well enough to move into the hospital ward with other patients. She counted down the hours until her friends came to see her. As soon as they entered the ward, she clapped her hand and performed a little dance on her bed. The love and support from the Mercy Ships crew soothed Radiatou’s aching soul and broke the shackles of loneliness that had held her captive for so many years.

     Within two weeks, Radiatou had healed well enough to go home. Her Mercy Ships friends drove her to her village, which was over an hour away from the ship. As the Land Rover pulled up to her home, it was immediately surrounded by people waiting for Radiatou’s arrival.  And the celebration began! This was the first time any of the villagers had seen her without her tumor. The response was overwhelming for Radiatou, her extended family, and her Mercy Ships friends. Loud sobs of joy filled the village as they all came to hug Radiatou. Many fell to their knees, raising their hands to the sky to praise God for the miracle in Radiatou’s life.
     Two months later, Radiatou’s Mercy Ships friends returned to her small village. Radiatou joyfully flew into their arms. She was healing well physically, and now she was dancing with her dearest friends in celebration.
     Radiatou came to Mercy Ships as an orphan who had just lost everything and everyone she knew. She was living in a home with people she had never met before and was engulfed with loneliness. In fact, she was so distraught that she attempted suicide but was stopped by her new family. The next day she heard about Mercy Ships, and a month later she found herself, for the first time in years, surrounded by people who cared for her deeply. They became her closest friends. Her tumor was removed, and so was her loneliness. She basked in the glow of love and acceptance of new friends.
     In a matter of months, Radiatou’s life was completely transformed by the power of love in action . . . the power of mercy. Now, she had a future and was getting ready to start her training as a tailor. She no longer had to hide from the world’s stares. With tears in her eyes, Radiatou said goodbye to her wonderful, supportive friends. “The love you have shown us has made us feel so welcomed, you have loved us as if we were family. You will always be family to me,” she declared.
Radiatou takes her first lesson in the art of being a tailor...and enjoys every minute of it!

10 May 2012Story by Nicole PribbernowEdited by Nancy PredainaPhotos by Debra Bell and JJ Tiziou 

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