Meet Cellina

Cellina Nyasugutha is a community health volunteer with Daraja Mbili, an outreach program based in Kisii.

Cellina's Story

She first heard about fistula on the radio in 2000, when it was announced that hundreds of women had shown up to a local fistula clinic seeking repair surgery. Shocked by the high number, Cellina wondered if the report had been exaggerated. The issue of fistula remained in her heart and, in 2014, she decided to volunteer and undergo training in fistula outreach. Once she started working in the field, Cellina realized that the announcement on the radio had not been exaggerated at all – fistula is indeed prevalent in Kisii, and the need for treatment is great.

As a community health volunteer, Cellina helps find new fistula patients at religious functions, community events, and other social gatherings. She conducts a verbal pre-screening and then refers potential fistula patients for more comprehensive screenings and treatment. Village chiefs have been very influential and supportive in her initiative.

Cellina has now been in the field for three months and has already identified four women with fistula. Patient recruitment is particularly challenging in Kisii, where girls often undergo female circumcision between the ages of 10-14 years and are then traditionally expected to distance themselves from all men. Following their marriage, women will rarely (or never) discuss reproductive issues with their husbands and vice versa. This makes it difficult for women to find someone trustworthy with whom to discuss personal matters, particularly a condition as stigmatizing as fistula. Kisii is also a very rural area, making transportation difficult – Cellina has to travel by motorbike over treacherous dirt roads, which limits the number of people she can reach in any given day.

“Working in my community requires a lot of patience and persistence,” says Cellina. “Having been born, schooled, and finally married in Kisii, I know firsthand what my fellow women have endured for ages and therefore, the least I can do is serve them in the best way I can by helping to offload the health burden from their shoulders” Cellina says that she is motivated by the way the outreach program is structured, as it ensures women receive all of the support they need.

About Kenya

  • Population: 45,010,056
  • Average Births per Woman: 3.54
  • Female Literacy: 84.2%
  • Population Living in Poverty: 43.4% (less than $1.25/day)
Read More

We’re Making a Difference in Kenya

News
Fistula Foundation partners with Quilts For Empowerment

Fistula Foundation is partnering with Quilts for Empowerment, an organization that teaches quilting to impoverished women in Kenya, including obstetric fistula survivors. Quilts for Empowerment has completed many quilt commissions for Fistula Foundation, with each one featuring the women’s work. Read more: Fistula Foundation partners with QFE Quilts for Empowerment is honored to announce that…

Read Another Woman’s Story

  • Naresia Kenya

    Naresia

    Kenya

    Naresia is a Masai girl from a rural village in Kenya. Only five months ago, at the age of 14, Naresia gave birth to a baby. After a prolonged and difficult labor, she awoke to find her bed soaked with urine. The doctors informed her that the delivery process had left her with an obstetric fistula and she was now incontinent.

  • Grace

    Kenya

    Grace got married in 1994, and explained that she immediately felt a burden upon herself to give birth to as many children as possible as quickly as possible in order to earn respect and stability in her marriage. This, she said, is the status quo in the rural African context.

  • Momakely

    Madagascar

    When it came time to deliver her baby, Momakely made her way to a health facility a great distance away from her home. But her labor was prolonged and difficult, and her baby did not survive. Momakely was left with an obstetric fistula for five years, until she learned about free fistula services offered by SALFA.

  • Seline

    Kenya

    Seline lives in a small village in the remote region of West Pokot, Kenya. She did not go to school and married young, as is tradition in this pastoralist community. She went into labor with her fourth child about three years ago, preferring to give birth at home with a traditional birth attendant from her village. Only 18% of women give birth in a health center in this region of Kenya, far below the national average of 44%

  • Fistula Foundation - Elizabeth Atieno

    Sylvia

    Kenya

    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.

  • 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."

  • Christine

    Kenya

    Despite the efforts of one dedicated doctor who rode over an hour by motorbike late in the evening to help save the life of Christine and her baby, the baby did not survive. Her prolonged labor also resulted in obstetric fistula. Her husband abandoned her because he could not stand the smell of her incontinence, but her brothers defied cultural tradition and insisted she and her five children live with them. Then, a radio advertisement changed her life.

  • Jenipher

    Zambia

    While giving birth to her fifth child in 1998, Jenipher endured a prolonged labor, and her baby was stillborn. Afterwards, Jenipher began leaking uncontrollably- she had developed an obstetric fistula. After 18 years of living with fistula, she had all but given up hope of getting treatment, until she heard a comforting voice on the radio.

  • Awetu

    Tanzania

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

  • Goni-Ethiopia

    Goni

    Ethiopia

    Goni is fifteen years old and lives in a small village in the hills of northeastern Ethiopia. She married and became pregnant. During labor she developed a fistula; her husband abandoned her after the injury became apparent.

  • Soazara

    Madagascar

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

  • Fina

    Tanzania

    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.

  • Wilmina

    Kenya

    “The last 22 years have been years of great pain, loss and very deep sorrows. I lost my baby, later lost my marriage, lost friends, and lost my only family (my parents). Fistula robbed me of everything that I once valued, and I have been left very empty.”

  • Sofia - WAHA

    Sofia

    Liberia

    At 16, Sofia lost her baby boy in childbirth and developed a fistula, prompting her husband to leave her. Unaware what her condition was called or that treatment was possible, she became almost completely isolated over the next three years, giving up hope of ever being healed. A radio ad changed her life.

  • Action on Fistula - Jane

    Jane and Elizabeth

    Kenya

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Jacklyn

    Kenya

    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.