A future and a hope

Imagine your world being torn apart in an instant. You are orphaned, homeless and alone. Too young to work. Too weak to beg for food. You suffer from burns covering your entire body…

Alimamy - an eight-year-old boy from Sierra Leone - lived this nightmare. A brutal civil war swept his country and rebel soldiers ruthlessly burned everything in sight. Alimamy and his parents were trapped inside their home as it rapidly filled with dark, black smoke.

Moussa, a neighbor hiding nearby, saw the fire, ran to the house and broke the door down.  He grabbed the closest body he could find.  It was Alimamy, on fire and almost unconscious.

Moussa wrapped Alimamy in a wet blanket to squelch his burning flesh, while others tried to save the others. But the heat of the flames engulfed the house and made further rescues impossible.

That moment took everything Alimamy had - his family, his home and his hope for a normal life.

Alimamy miraculously survived, but he sustained severe burns covering the entire left side of his body. As the burns healed, large bumps formed over the scars. His face and upper body were disfigured and his left arm became useless as the scars restricted movement.

When the Mercy Ship sailed into Freetown, Sierra Leone seven years ago, we met Alimamy. His outer scars were harsh, but we could only imagine the depth of the emotional scars. Our skilled surgeons performed plastic surgery to repair the massive damage and release the burn contractures to increase his mobility and improve his quality of life. 

Alimamy’s arm took a long time to heal, so he stayed longer onboard the Mercy Ship.  Soon almost all the crew knew Alimamy, his contagious smile and „ham“ of a personality.

In February, Mercy Ships will once again sail into Freetown to serve the people of Sierra Leone for the fifth time in 18 years. Alimamy will be 20 years old this year. Will we see him? We absolutely hope so.

Alimamy dreams of being a doctor someday. He says, „I’d love to be a doctor because I’ve seen the way the doctors take care of patients here on the ship.  They’re so kind.“ 

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