When David was five, a small, painful mass started growing on his neck. His family tried to get help, but they could only afford cheap treatments, and nothing made any difference.

By the time David was 10, the tumour had grown dramatically, and the family went to the local hospital. They were told that surgery would cost them 300,000CFA – around £400. David’s parents were distraught. “We did everything we could, but we had no money to pay for him,” they said.

David had nowhere else to turn. He tried to avoid going outside, so he didn’t have to deal with the shame and ridicule. “Did you swallow a tennis ball?” the local children would ask him, laughing.

But then his mother, Diane, saw the Africa Mercy arriving in Cotonou. She knew this was their chance. Diane and David joined the queues of people waiting to be seen by the Mercy Ships screening team. 

They lined up for six days, sometimes sleeping in the rain. But their persistence paid off. David got an appointment.

David’s tumour was removed on the Africa Mercy for free by expert maxillofacial surgeons – and soon afterwards, he was able to see his face without the “tennis ball” for the first time in eight years.

Diane and her son couldn’t wait to return home and share the news. “Our neighbours hugged him and were overjoyed to see him without the tumour,” Diane said. David no longer had to hide away in shame. Thanks to your generosity, he was set free.



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