Meet Aidah

72 year old Aidah lived with obstetric fistula for an astounding 41 years before accessing treatment at Evangel Vesico-Vaginal Fistula Center in Jos. Her family stuck by her side the entire time, and recounted to hospital staff how fistula severely limited her (and their) opportunities and success in life.

Aidah's Story

Theirs was a very happy family until it was time for Aidah to deliver her sixth child. Unfortunately, the sixth delivery did not go as smoothly as the other five. The labor was prolonged and obstructed, and she was taken to the nearest hospital. Doctors performed an emergency C-section and successfully delivered a healthy baby boy. There was much joy and celebration following the delivery, but it was short-lived when Aidah started leaking urine.

Every effort to stop the leaking failed. The family visited several local hospitals without success. Aidah was stripped of all social, economic and even religious opportunities in the community, and she could no longer work on her farm because of the constant leaking. Her children didn’t have many friends, as the other children in the community would tease them for having a mom who was incontinent.

The family clung to hope and continued to visit major local hospitals seeking treatment, but could find none. This eventually drained the family’s economy and they resigned to the fact that Aidah’s fistula could not be cured.

Some years after she developed fistula, Aidah’s husband died. Her late husband’s employer wanted to hire Aidah in order to help improve the family’s finances, but she was unable to accept because of her fistula. Once she lost all means of income, Aidah’s oldest son had to drop out of college in order to care for the family. Her other children were also affected in that they did not have enough money to continue their educations either.

Finally, Aidah heard that fistula repair surgery was available in the town of Jos. Her children discouraged her from trying to go, as they were convinced that her fistula could not be repaired and did not want to get their hopes up. When Aidah heard about an outreach session conducted by Evangel Vesico-Vaginal Fistula Center in a neighboring state, she insisted that her children take her. At the outreach, which was also a mobile fistula repair clinic, she was assessed and diagnosed with fistula. The fistula was successfully repaired and Aidah became continent of urine for the first time in 41 years.

There was a spontaneous outburst of joy and celebration when she realized she was dry, but Aidah’s joy was mixed with sadness – joy from regaining her health after 41 years, and sadness for enduring so much for so long. She is glad she can now live the remaining years of life in peace with her children.

About Nigeria

  • Population: 177,155,754
  • Average Births per Woman: 5.25
  • Female Literacy: 50.4%
  • Population Living in Poverty: 70% (less than $1.25/day)
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Read Another Woman’s Story

  • Mary


    Mary, from rural West Pokot, Kenya, received free fistula repair surgery in 2015 after being referred for treatment by a community health worker. With a bright future ahead, she wishes to become a fistula ambassador herself.

  • Meranesoa


    Meranesoa’s husband accompanied her to the hospital for her fistula surgery, and said he had every intention of helping, supporting and standing by her side while she received and recovered from treatment.

  • Mary A.


    Mary waited her whole life to have a child. At the age of 47 she finally became pregnant. But her labor was difficult, and her child did not survive. She developed fistula as a result. She was ostracized by her family and shunned by the entire community, until finally, at the age of 73, she finally accessed a free surgery that would change the rest of her life, and remind her what it felt like to feel "human" again.

  • Mulamba

    Democratic Republic of Congo

    With her health restored, Mulamba is eager to return to her job as a schoolteacher.

  • Selina


    Selina, a traditional birth attendant from remote West Pokot, Kenya, helped eight women from her village get life-changing fistula surgery. And she’s not done yet.

  • Beauty


    Beauty developed a fistula five years ago after a very complicated delivery. She told doctors at St. Francis Mission Hospital that she prayed every day for a miracle, never knowing that her leaking was actually caused by a medical condition for which free treatment was available.

  • Siana



    Siana is 17 years old and from Katanga Province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She developed an obstetric fistula after going through a difficult pregnancy at just 14.

  • Queen


    “When my husband saw the many health issues I had, he despised me, he called me names and always told me in the face that I was more than crippled.” She was left on her own and most of the time starving. She reached at a point that she could not withstand the mistreatment and she went back to her parents. After a few years her parents died. “I walk like a crippled woman, there is nothing that I own on this earth, I don’t have a husband, I don’t have a baby. My life is so empty.” She has said that her deepest desire has been to die a clean woman. But at Gynocare, where she received fistula surgery through the Action on Fistula program, she is happy. Here, she feels loved and valued. She knows she has a family at Gynocare.

  • Felistas


    Felistas developed fistula at the age of 17, after delivering a stillborn baby via Cesarian section. Her husband left her because he could not stand her condition. She suffered alone until learning one day that treatment was available through the Action on Fistula program.

  • Pushpa


    Pushpa is approximately 50 years old and from a remote village in western Nepal. When she arrived at Kathmandu Model Hospital, she was leaking urine and feces uncontrollably and was severely depressed.

  • Landy


    Landy became pregnant at 14 years old. When it came time to deliver, she labored at home as most women do in her village. But after a day of excruciating pain, her labor did not progress and her family took her to the village hospital. The baby did not survive.

  • Soazara


    Soazara's husband abandoned her, because he could not stand her smell. Life became almost unbearable for her.

  • Chepotyeltyel


    Chepotyeltyel is a Pokot woman from a remote, rural area in northwestern Kenya. After suffering with fistula for nearly 50 years, she was finally able to receive free fistula treatment in July 2016.

  • Kabuli, from Afghanistan (photo credit: CURE International)



    Kabuli, from Afghanistan, is the third of four wives. When she developed a fistula after enduring obstructed labor without any emergency medical care, her husband forced her into isolation within his home. Living in shame, Kabuli thought she would be miserable for the rest of her life.

  • Helen


    Helen went into labor with her second child about four years ago. She gave birth in her home, where she labored for many hours, completely alone without anyone present to assist her. Her baby was stillborn and she began leaking urine immediately.

  • Saran


    After developing a fistula with the birth of her fourth child, Saran received free fistula surgery at our partner site Jean Paul II Hospital in Conakry, Guinea.

  • Christine A.


    Christine loved her husband and bore him six children. But after he died, Christine's life changed when she was forced to marry her eldest brother-in-law, who cared very little for her or her children. She became pregnant with her seventh child, enduring a prolonged labor that left her with obstetric fistula. Her new husband shunned her and kicked her out of her home. But then she found hope.

  • Fina


    Sixteen years ago, a childbirth injury turned Fina’s life upside down. But after losing everything—her health, her husband, even her own family—she was determined to take her future into her own hands.