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

  • Kaudha

    Uganda

    Kaudha is from eastern Uganda. She developed a fistula after spending hours in labor with her third child. Unfortunately, the baby did not survive, and Kaudha’s condition left her feeling isolated from friends and loved ones. But in fall 2015, her story—and her outlook—changed dramatically.

  • Hadija

    Guinea

    Hadija is 27 years old. She has given birth to four children in her life, but sadly two of them did not survive. To make things worse, her last pregnancy left Hadija with an obstetric fistula.

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

    Kabuli

    Afghanistan

    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.

  • Siana

    Siana

    Burundi

    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.

  • Margaret and Rose

    Kenya

    At the age of 14, Margaret was raped while fetching water at the local stream. She became pregnant as a result, and endured a difficult labor, which resulted in a stillborn baby and an obstetric fistula. An orphan, Margaret had nowhere to go, and nobody to help her through this terrible tragedy – except her sister, Rose.

  • Fistula Foundation - Khadija

    Khadijah

    Chad

    Khadijah lived with fistula for 18 years, and it isolated her from everything and everyone around her. Originally from Chad's northern region of Bar Elgazel, she was married when she was only 14 years old. Her first pregnancy came three years afterwards and, not knowing the importance of seeking health care or treatment, she never received any prenatal care.

  • Alradya-Sudan

    Alradya

    Sudan

    Alradya is 17 years old and lives in northern Sudan. When she was 15, she was married to her cousin, a farmer. She became pregnant and when she went into labor, had only her mother at her side. She endured excruciating labor for two days, but there was still no sign of the baby, which she could no longer feel moving. A traditional birth attendant was summoned to examine Alradya, who ordered that she be sent to the nearest hospital.

  • Marivelo

    Madagascar

    In May, 2013, Marivelo went in to labor with her first child. Her labor lasted for four days. The child did not survive, and Marivelo was left incontinent of urine. She had developed an obstetric fistula as a result of the prolonged, unrelieved labor.

  • Confidence from Liberia (WAHA)

    Confidence

    Liberia

    Pregnant with her second child, Confidence went to a local hospital to deliver her baby. But when her labor became obstructed, hospital staff weren’t able to perform the necessary Cesarean section and transferred her to a larger facility. Sadly, it was too late.

  • Flavia

    Flavia

    Angola

    Flavia is a shy 17 year old girl who was married when she was just 15. Soon after, she became pregnant. Her labor began at home, but the family was unprepared when the labor became obstructed. Not knowing what to do, they finally took her to a hospital.

  • Mildred

    Kenya

    Mildred developed fistula after prolonged, obstructed labor with her second child. She endured two difficult months of life with fistula before receiving treatment through our Action on Fistula program.

  • Bernard

    Kenya

    Bernard Owino is one of six county mobilizers with Disciples of Mercy (DOM), an organization that runs a fistula outreach program in Kisumu. Before joining DOM, he worked with orphans and other vulnerable populations in the region for four years as a social worker.

  • Fistula Foundation - Maria

    Maria

    Zimbabwe

    Maria is 42 years old. She is HIV-positive and currently on antiretroviral therapy. Maria doesn’t have a permanent place to live – she cannot work because of her incontinence, and has no real income to live on. She survives through the ongoing support of her relatives and friends.

  • Everlyn

    Kenya

    Everlyn developed fistula during her second pregnancy. Shunned and stigmatized by her own family, her husband stood by her side until she received successful treatment through the Action on Fistula program.

  • Evelyn

    Kenya

    “It was so painful to leave the hospital with the few clothes I had bought for my baby. It was painful to walk out of the gates empty handed [without a baby] and to worsen the matter, with the leaking of urine."

  • Fistula Foundation - Hellen Aoko

    Margaret

    Kenya

    Margaret is 36 years old and from a very remote village in southwestern Kenya. In this area, child marriage and polygamy are very common. At 16 years old, Margaret’s parents arranged for her to become the third wife of a man more than three times her age. She tried to resist, but eventually gave in to the marriage due to pressure from her family and community.

  • Josephine-Congo

    Josephine

    Democratic Republic of the Congo

    Josephine is from the northwestern corner of the Democratic Republic of Congo. 34 years old, she is the mother of two healthy boys, ages 11 and 9, the only surviving children from her four pregnancies.

  • Jane

    Kenya

    Conducting patient outreach in rural western Kenya, Jane faces a number of challenges—including threats to her life—as she travels in search of women suffering with fistula. But knowing there are many women who are enjoying life once again thanks to her efforts gives great meaning to her work.

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