Marieme and Ndeye's wish...
“We wish to have a tablet and a laptop”
5 years old, Cardiff
Marieme and Ndeye’s wishes made them smile – something their dad Ibrahima describes as “treatment for the soul.” It was much needed after they moved to a new country to get treatment, and to a new city with access to support from a children’s hospice. Now, the twins can use the same online tools as their peers, helping them to reach their full potential.
Doctors feared the girls would only survive for a few days when they were born in Senegal in May 2016. Scans had been misinterpreted and their parents weren’t expecting conjoined twins. They were expecting a single baby girl. But Marieme and Ndeye are now learning to stand and walk, and to use their new tablet and new laptop, respectively, to help them with their schoolwork.
Marieme and Ndeye’s story
Ibrahima brought his daughters Marieme and Ndeye to the UK in 2017 to have treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. They settled in Cardiff and have respite breaks at Ty Hafan children’s hospice where a volunteer also helps adapt their clothes to fit them both. They started going to school when they were four, and their mum returned to Senegal.
"They really enjoy school and they’ve made a lot of friends there. It’s great to see them interacting with all the other kids. It’s very important to me that that happens."
The impact of illness
In 2018, doctors were concerned that Marieme's heart was growing weaker, and that she was mainly being kept alive by Ndeye. Ibrahima then faced the heart-wrenching dilemma of whether to risk surgery to separate them in order to save Ndeye’s life, or to risk them remaining conjoined. Their case went to court because doctors felt separation would be best, but further tests showed the twins’ circulatory systems were so closely intertwined that neither child would survive separation. Ndeye’s stronger heart provides Marieme with the oxygen she needs because she has a heart condition. So, the girls remain conjoined. But, despite being so physically close, when it comes to their personalities the girls are quite different.
Their dad explained: “Marieme is a little bit introverted, but she’s coming out of her shell, while Ndeye enjoys being the centre of attention. At school, the teachers are pleased with their progress. Marieme needs regular breaks, which makes it a little bit challenging for her but at the end of the day it's all ok. The pride I have for them every single day is huge. When I see the things they are doing, from surviving first - that was a huge achievement - to doing things like standing and going to school every morning. You can see a lot of joy."
The impact of a wish
Ibrahima heard about Make-A-Wish from their social worker, and, between them, they decided that as Marieme’s condition makes travel difficult, tactile things like a tablet for her and a laptop for Ndeye would be the best wishes for the girls because they enjoy watching and creating things.
Wishgranter Amy made all the arrangements including special deliveries to the girls, who were thrilled. Now they’re researching equipment that can fix the iPad onto the girls’ shared wheelchair so that it’s secured and can't be dropped.
Ibrahima said: “Sometimes in life you have to stand up for something. I didn’t have any control over how the girls would be when they were born but I can have control over them having the happiest life possible. My main goal is that whatever the length of their lives, it’s to make sure that I do all I can to help them accomplish whatever they can. That’s my responsibility.
“A wish creates a smile. Whether it lasts for one minute or five minutes, it’s providing wellbeing. When I said ‘this is your iPad’ to Marieme, you can’t imagine how excited she was! It’s a simple word, smile, but behind it is a very big thing. I don’t think there is any charity or any medicine that can be more beneficial than something that helps someone’s wellbeing – it's nourishing and nurturing to the soul. It’s a treatment for the soul to make someone smile and feel valued – to know that people care about their wellbeing. Imagine if everybody provided smiles to everyone else, the world would be far better.”
"A wish creates a smile. Whether it lasts for one minute or five minutes, it’s providing wellbeing. When I said ‘this is your iPad’ to Marieme, you can’t imagine how excited she was! It’s a simple word, smile, but behind it is a very big thing. I don’t think there is any charity or any medicine that can be more beneficial than something that helps someone’s wellbeing – it's nourishing and nurturing to the soul. It’s a treatment for the soul to make someone smile and feel valued – to know that people care about their wellbeing. Imagine if everybody provided smiles to everyone else, the world would be far better."
By supporting Make-A-Wish, you’re bringing smiles to children’s faces all over the UK, every day. Thank you.
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