Nadire and Nanjyre
Nadire and Nanjyre are eight-year-old identical twins from the lake-side capital of Porto Novo, Benin.
They live with their parents and grandmother in a busy two-storey compound that’s home to dozens of families. In the shared courtyard - despite their bowed legs - the girls happily play with other children. They are full of energy. They run, dance, skip and jump.
"They play more than children with straight legs!" their mother, Kadjija, says. "In one leap they can jump on top of the TV and down again! They’re able to do anything." Each twin has their own personality - Nanjyre is clever and bright, and Nandire is calm and kind. And as is the case with many twins, they have a special bond. "They don’t let each other down. My twins love each other," Kadjija says.
On the whole, everyday life for the twins is good. What’s troubling is what will happen as they develop into adults. "They go to school, but even if they finish, who will employ them? No one would want to employ them. If it happens that their legs can’t be fixed, they will be without a future. That’s what hurts me," says Kadjija.
It’s her fear that as their mobility worsens over time they’ll become increasingly dependent on other people and may only find work making handicrafts.
In late 2016, Nadire and Nanjyre were two of 150 patients selected to receive orthopaedic surgery onboard the Africa Mercy. The procedure straightened their legs, giving the girls a chance at living productive lives as able-bodied adults. Kadjija says: "When the twins got home, they told everyone they saw a ship. The only place they’ve been outside of our home is school. They talked about it all week along. They spoke about the stairs and everything they saw… the toys, the number of bikes!"
Kadjija feels a great sense of relief that her girls now have a future. "I said to myself: 'God will make a way one day.' Now, God has made a way. God’s time has come."