You can only hope to contain him… and even that is nearly impossible.
It’s a fact I learned quickly as I chased Amine around the hospital grounds at CURE Niger and found that, at the ripe old age of six, he could absolutely outrun me. Amine has boundless energy now that he has the ability to move freely, so containing any of that enthusiasm is not an option (unless he decides he needs a five-second break to regroup before flying off again, as pictured below).
Amine’s story, and the impact he’s had, is similarly uncontainable. We invited people to share their stories and memories of Amine in our newsletter, Healing, and received much more than we could fit in just a few pages! We decided to share everything here, but even this is an incomplete portrayal, because there’s no way to accurately measure his ripple effect.
Why do we take healing so seriously? Why do we believe it matters so much?
This is why. The transformation that happens when one child finds healing—for that child and for anyone in his path—is truly immeasurable. Few stories illuminate that truth more clearly than Amine’s.
– Beka Watts, Content Coordinator, CURE International
“I had a friend in Maradi, 700 kilometers away from Niamey. I went to attend a wedding, and that is where I met Amine and his mother. When I saw them, I said, ‘What happened to that child?’ My friend, who is a doctor there, said, ‘Is it possible to treat him at CURE Hospital?’ I said, ‘Yes, we can treat him at the hospital.’ So I took his photo, brought it back to the hospital, and showed our team. They said, ‘Tell him to come! Tell him to come!’ So that is how he came here to the hospital.
“I was amazed by Amine’s physical healing and transformation, which led to his social integration. Amine has an amazing memory. I used to tease him and say, ‘What is your name? Saminou? Laminou?’ and he would laugh and say, ‘No, it’s Aminou!’ (his nickname). When he left the hospital the first time, he was gone for months, and when he came back, the first thing he said to me was, ‘Now can you remember my name?’
“Amine used to beg in his village, but now he can do anything. He has the confidence to match his intelligence.”
“When Amine first arrived, he covered himself almost completely. The disfiguring burn scars were hidden as best as possible. Amine was shy and withdrawn but was soon holding my hand, hugging me, and singing songs with the other children. I told him over and over again that he was beautiful to God and to me and that we would do our best to release his face and arm from their scar tissue. He could not get enough love and attention.”
“In a society where children are usually considered less important than adults and where most of our patients are rejected because of their physical disability, we put children first. When they come to our hospital, they see that we are different. They are important to us because we know that children, and especially children with disabilities, are important to Jesus.
“At CURE Niger, the children are our focus, and that is radical in the context of Niger. We put the spotlight on the children and show them that they are children of God. It’s our privilege to tell them that God created them and has a plan for their lives, a plan of healing and hope.”
“I would always tell Amine to go play with the other kids and to leave the office space so people could work. Amine would say ‘ok’ and pretend to go, then he would wait until I was out of sight and come back, or he would say ‘ok’ and then go around the corner and come back to the offices from the other side of the building. It became a game we would play—I would tell him to go, and he would go around the corner, so I’d run to the other side of the building and be there waiting for him. He would see me and crack up laughing and run back to the other side of the building.
“Also, Amine really knew how to talk. When you talk to him, you feel like you are talking to an adult—a crafty adult. One time, I caught him going into the director’s office, and Amine said, ‘Issoufou! I was just coming to see you and say hi!’”
“When Amine first came, he literally wouldn’t show his face. He was covered up with a rag so that his burns wouldn’t show, and he wouldn’t talk or make eye contact with anyone. But as he began to heal physically, his spirit was also set free. He went from being ashamed to show his face to making his presence felt and known to everyone at the hospital. His infectious laughter filled the whole hospital, and everyone here (and around the world, among those who have heard his story) was struck by what a beautiful soul he has. Some people just spread joy, and Amine is for sure one of those people.
“I remember once when he came into the office he asked for a sugar cube (since I didn’t have any candy). So I gave him one, and he started eating it, and he just smiled and laughed and said, ‘Akway dadi,’ which, roughly translated from Hausa, means, ‘There is joy.’ He found joy in big and small things, and it spread from him effortlessly.”
“Sometimes it just takes a few weeks for them to trust and come alive, but when they do, watch out! This guy is full of energy and loves to laugh!”
“I have a lot of ‘favorite’ memories of Aminou, but the thing I think most fondly of is how he always came into the office and would turn my laptop off and on just to see the lights go out and come back on again. He just loved laughing with people!
“He also used to come in and sit with his little play laptop and work at the desk with me sometimes, and if he ever got too rambunctious, all you had to do was threaten to tell Moutari (Niger’s Clubfoot Coordinator, who is from Amine’s tribe), and he would get a nervous but excited look on his face and run out giggling. He is a great kid.”
“If you’re looking for a definition of freedom, Amine is a good one. From completely stuck and shy, he became free to move, filling the air with his incredible laugh. Amine is one of the kids who touched me in a very special way. They all have a special story, but this one was definitely a miracle in progress! This little six-year-old boy had endured so much more in his short life than I could ever imagine. From very deep pain to very high joy, he found his life in this small hospital in Niamey. It was great for our team to have a chance to follow him during this awesome part of his life.”
“Before, he was stuck, but now, he is free.”
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