Terre Des Hommes — Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Fatoumata arrived at Geneva international airport from Mali, calm and extremely happy to continue on her "journey towards life". Aged ten, she is the first Malian child with heart disease to receive care in Switzerland within the Terre des hommes (Tdh) programme of specialised care.
A warm welcome
Fatoumata lives in a family of 13 children in the Kayes region. She has suffered from heart problems since birth. In order to be closer to a hospital, she had to leave school and move in with her uncle in the Malian capital Bamako. After being spotted by our local team, Fatoumata was flown over to Switzerland for a three-month period of medical care as part of Tdh's specialised care programme.
Greeted at the airport upon arrival by people from Tdh, Fatoumata was surprised to be able to speak in her mother tongue Bambara to one of the team members. Feeling reassured, she explained shyly: "my parents had to stay in Mali with my brothers and sisters. At home, I was enrolled in a Koranic school, but because I was ill I could not go. I am happy that I will soon be healthy again."
Huddled in her black jumper, far from the warm sun in Bamako, Fatoumata is still sleepy. Curiosity overcomes her sleepiness, though as she travels to her first medical appointment. She observes the passing landscape calmly. In the hospital in Aigle, despite the presence of doctors and nurses, she marvels at the statue of Father Christmas. After the examinations, the child will be operated at the University Hospitals of Geneva and will then recover at the "Maison de Massongex".
Vital medical care
The Tdh specialised care programme in Mali works together with one of the country's largest hospitals, the Mother-Child Hospital "Le Luxembourg" in Bamako, which also provides children's cardiac services. "We would like to thank Tdh for supporting us at a time when we most needed it. The number of children with heart disease in need of care is constantly increasing," said Professor Diarra Bocary, Director of the Mother-Child Hospital in Bamako.
Terre des hommes improves the lives of more than two million children and their relatives each year. Find out more about our projects in Mali.