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The bond between sisters is unbreakable in the review of "Inseparable Sisters". The overwhelming strength of a parent's love will bring you to tears.
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The bond between sisters is unbreakable in the review of “Inseparable Sisters”. The overwhelming strength of a parent’s love will bring you to tears.


Ibrahima, the father of my daughters, starts by acknowledging their differences. He describes Marieme as quiet and reserved, while Ndeye is independent and wants to be in control. As he watches them enjoy ice cream by the Cardiff Bay waterfront and feeds the pigeons with them, he smiles. Despite their differences, the sisters often hold hands behind their wheelchair. Ibrahima reflects on the unexpected journey of being a parent to conjoined twins, admitting it is not easy but a privilege to witness their constant fight for life. His words are a kind and all-encompassing introduction.

Marieme and Ndeye were born conjoined in Dakar, Senegal, over seven years ago. The film Inseparable Sisters, created by Nick Hartley, is a heartwarming and personal documentary that showcases the journey of these two sisters, as BBC Wales Today anchor Lucy Owen has been following their progress for many years. Their bond is unbreakable and they have overcome incredible obstacles.

Upon their birth, it was not predicted by doctors that they would live past a few days. However, as time passed and they continued to survive, Ibrahima’s optimism grew. He saw the strength and resilience in his children, referring to them as warriors. Eventually, it was determined that in order for them to survive, they would need to undergo a separation surgery that was not available in Senegal. As a result, the family travelled to the UK, specifically to Great Ormond Street children’s hospital. While the girls’ mother is not present on screen and is only briefly mentioned, her absence is felt in this story of familial love. This may be for valid reasons, but it is still noticeable.

The people in the UK were given heartbreaking news: Marieme’s heart was not strong enough to survive the surgery that would separate her from her twin sister. Without the operation, both girls would only have a few months to live. Ibrahima expresses his moral dilemma, stating that he cannot make the decision to sacrifice one child for the other.

Since then, Marieme and Ndeye have flourished. They have one set of legs and pelvis, and multiple organs from the abdomen up. The specifics of their connection and separation remain a mystery. According to their pediatric consultant, they have separate spinal cords, yet they are able to coordinate their movements without communication. Their resilience is remarkable, as is the determination of their father, Ibrahima. He made the decision to leave everything behind – his home, wife, other children, job, and country – in order to raise his daughters. He explains that he followed his heart and took on his parental responsibility, which he considers to be his life’s purpose. In essence, Inseparable Sisters is a testament to the immense power of parental love and the strong sense of duty that comes with it.

Their impressive progress is carefully documented – not just from Senegal to Cardiff or from one hospital visit to the next, but from day to day and milestone to milestone. We witness the girls celebrate their seventh birthday at their neighborhood primary school, where they receive assistance from two classroom aides. Each day, these aides help the girls into a standing frame to help them build strength and work towards their ultimate goal: being able to stand and walk without assistance.

We encounter their acquaintances who, when questioned about what they admire about them, express wonderful sentiments, such as: “I am fond of cats, and they are as well.” We come across their caregivers, who spend every night to provide Ibrahima with a break. We witness them receiving medical check-ups at their nearby university hospital through the NHS and having their clothes specially made by an inclusive textile program at the University of South Wales. We observe Ibrahima giving his daughters their nightly medication, which he has named after characters from My Little Pony – Fluttershy for Nurofen and Applejack for paracetamol. This small gesture brought tears to my eyes.

What we see is an idealistic vision of a caring and fully operational welfare state, with the crucial element being proper funding. In a nation where the Tory government has blatantly disregarded the rights of disabled individuals to a shocking extent, to the point where cash-strapped local councils were considering placing them in care homes, this is truly heartwarming. As a parent of a child with disabilities myself, I am deeply moved by this. And in these times, hope is something we desperately need. Towards the end of Inseparable Sisters, the people who have supported Ibrahima, Marieme, and Ndeye in living a fulfilling and communal life come together so that the girls can proudly show off their new clothes, and their father can express his gratitude. “You have been fighting for these girls,” Ibrahima tells the group of women. “I see it every day, and without your assistance, none of this would be possible.”

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Source: theguardian.com