Anna’s Friends is a mission-driven community of women helping women all over the world. They donate 100% of membership fees to organizations that help women, including Fistula Foundation! This year, in honor of the 2nd annual UN International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, they featured a blog post from the Fistula Foundation on their website recounting the story of Beatrice, the young girl pictured to the left.
Beatrice lives in a small village in Western Kenya. She married and became pregnant at 16, but when the time came to give birth there were significant complications. The distance to the hospital was too far for Beatrice to travel, and she remained at home in labor for over two days until her situation became life-threatening. By the time Beatrice arrived at the hospital the baby was stillborn and she had started leaking urine uncontrollably; her difficult labor had left her with the childbirth injury of obstetric fistula, caused by prolonged obstructed labor.
Obstetric fistula is a devastating condition in which a woman loses the ability to control her bodily wastes (urine or feces, or in some cases both) and is too often abandoned by her husband and ostracized from her community because they cannot stand her smell. Fistula is preventable when a woman has access to emergency medical intervention, such as a C-section, and curable only through a repair surgery that costs as little as $450.
Luckily, the staff at Homa Bay Hospital had attended a fistula training in 2011 and recognized the condition immediately. They directed Beatrice to Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Referral & Teaching Hospital in Kisumu where she was admitted for surgery in May 2012.
Beatrice’s treatment was successful and she is no longer leaking urine. She is back in school and thinks she would like to have children, but only after she has finished her studies and is ready to have a family. Beatrice’s mother is also very relieved that Beatrice is back in good health, and feels she now has a bright future ahead of her.
Today, on the United Nations’ International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, we take time to recognize the one million women around the world just like Beatrice who are suffering from this devastating condition. Her story is all too common in Kenya and throughout underdeveloped regions of the world where access to maternal healthcare is limited. So what will you do today in honor of the one million women who are suffering from obstetric fistula? Hint: It’s easier than you think. Tell your friends about fistula. Watch one of our videos. Join our Circle of Friends program and raise awareness in your community by putting on an event. Fundraise with a few friends and make a donation – £267 can change a woman’s life! Do it for your sisters. Do it for yourself. Tell us about it @Fistula_Fdtn and together we can #EndFistula for the women who are suffering.