Bilkis web version

Meet Bilkis

Bilkis is just 20 years old. She developed an obstetric fistula during the delivery of her first baby. Bilkis delivered under the guidance of a traditional birth attendant who encouraged her to continue her labor at home despite the fact that she had already been in labor for two days.

Bilkis's Story

By the time she was taken to a hospital, her baby was stillborn. Bilkis was heartbroken by the loss of her child, which was only made by worse by the fact that she was now incontinent. Her husband left her and married another woman, so Bilkis went to live with her parents. She remained in the home and did not engage in any social events, as other people in the community were not sympathetic to her condition.

Thankfully, Bilkis came into contact with the team at HOPE Hospital in Cox’s Bazar only six months after her complicated delivery. Bilkis underwent two surgeries and was finally able to leave the hospital completely continent and free of urine leakage. Still young and with her whole life ahead of her, Bilkis is looking forward to being a part of her community once again.

About Bangladesh

  • Population: 168,957,745
  • Average Births per Woman: 2.45
  • Female Literacy: 58.5%
  • Population Living in Poverty: 43.3% (less than $1.25/day)
Read More

We’re Making a Difference in Bangladesh


Hope Hospital – A Lighthouse for Fistula Patients in Remote Bangladesh

Fistula Foundation is proud to support the work of our partners at the Hope Foundation for Women & Children of Bangladesh. By Dr. Tareq Salahuddin Cox’s Bazar Women and Children’s Hospital — a project of Hope Foundation serves the people living in remotest area of Bangladesh. In some specialised services like fistula operation, they provide…


The Face of HOPE

Meet Dr. Iftikher Mahmood, founder of the HOPE Foundation for Women & Children of Bangladesh. We have proudly funded his work since 2010; his hospital is the only facility in southern Bangladesh providing fistula treatment. Watch our interview with him to learn more about our partnership and his life-changing work.

Read Another Woman’s Story

  • Flavia



    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.
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    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.
  • Towanda - web version



    Towanda is 20 years old and from a rural area just outside of Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital city. Four years ago at the age of 16, she became pregnant. When the time came to deliver, there were a lot of complications.
  • Gul-Afghanistan



    Gul lives in Afghanistan. At 13 years old, her father arranged for her to marry an older man who had another wife, and after one year of marriage, Gul became pregnant. When she went into labor, it lasted for two days. There were no clinics or doctors where she lived and Gul's husband became worried. He took her to her father's house, where Gul's father killed a sheep and placed the sheepskin on her as part of a traditional treatment used in her area. After three days of wearing the sheepskin, Gul delivered a stillborn baby.
  • Jacklyn



    Jacklyn is just 29 years old, but has faced enough heartbreak to last a lifetime. Born and raised in Kisii County in western Kenya, Jacklyn was raised by her older sister because their parents abandoned them when she was a small child. She was never able to go to school because she had to do odd jobs along with her older sister in order to have enough food to eat at the end of the day.
  • Serafina



    Serafina is 18 years old and from the Mukubal tribe in southwestern Angola. Married off at a young age and one of several wives, Serafina became pregnant when she was 14. She is very small-boned and was suffering from malnutrition when she came to the hospital, as food is often scarce in that part of the country. As a result of that and other factors, her delivery did not go well.
  • One.Womans.Story.Debora



    Debora lives in a tiny Angolan village quite far from any emergency medical services. In 2008, she was in labor with her fourth child for nearly a week before her uncle finally brought her to a hospital.
  • Awetu



    After Awetu developed a fistula following a difficult labor and delivery, her husband left her and married another. She was heartbroken.
  • DJINTO EKULA_lo-res


    Democratic Republic of Congo

    Djinto tried to do everything right. She attended regular prenatal sessions to prepare for the birth of her child. Her pregnancy progressed normally, though she had been warned that the child she carried was too large for Djinto’s young 17 year old body to handle.
  • Sujata fistula foundation



    Sujata lives in Bajura, a very poor and remote mountain district in western Nepal. She lives with her husband, whom she married when she was 16 years old, and his family in a small house shared by 12 people. One year after their wedding, Sujata was looking forward to the birth of her first child. There was no health facility nearby, so when Sujata’s labor entered its eighth day, the family called on the local birth attendant.
  • Halima, from Somalia (photo credit: WAHA)



    Halima is yet another brave fistula survivor from Somalia. “When I went to labour, the pain got stronger and stronger and lasted on and on. Something was not right. It took two days to convince my husband to bring me to a health facility. The doctors that saw me decided to immediately carry out a cesarean section. But they had no anesthesia. The pain was unbearable, and when I screamed they started beating me. My baby could not be saved and I developed what I later learned was an obstetric fistula. My husband left me because he could not stand the smell caused by my injury.”
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    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.
  • Fistula Foundation - Elizabeth Atieno



    Pregnant at the age of 13, Sylvia labored for two days before delivering a stillborn baby. She developed obstetric fistula, which led to two decades of shame and sadness. Then one day, she heard a radio announcement that would change her life forever.
  • Fatima, from Sudan (photo credit: WAHA)



    Fatima lives in Sudan. She went into labor at the age of 16, but initially didn't have access to a hospital. By the time she was taken to the hospital, the baby was dead, and Fatima developed an obstetric fistula. Her husband divorced her, leaving Fatima emotionally shattered by the loss of her husband and first born child.
  • Action on Fistula - Jane

    Jane and Elizabeth


    After suffering five miscarriages, Jane prepared to deliver her first child. But two days of difficult labor left Jane with an obstetric fistula. At home, she became traumatized by isolation and mistreatment from her husband, who had taken another wife. Her sister, Elizabeth, stepped in.
  • One Womans Story-Alphonsia



    Alphonsia’s heart-wrenching story began 27 years ago after her labor failed to progress properly.
  • Evelyn



    “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."

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