Meet 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.

Debora's Story

By that time, her uterus had ruptured and her baby, delivered via C-section, had died. The difficult labor also left a fistula between her bladder and cervix, causing her to leak urine constantly. All of Debora’s other children had also died shortly after childbirth, and her husband finally abandoned her too.

Luckily, Debora found our partner site Centro Evangelico de Medicina de Lubango (Evangelical Medical Center of Lubango, or CEML) in Angola. Once she arrived, her fistula repair surgery turned out to be much more difficult than doctors expected – in addition to a fistula, Debora had a large cyst and also had to be treated for schistosomiasis, a disease caused by parasitic worms that is common in many parts of Africa. Her fistula was so complex that three surgeries were required, but today Debora is healed and no longer leaks urine. Our partners at CEML report that following her surgery, Debora returned to her parents’ home, and she is hopeful about her new life.

About Angola

  • Population: 20,172,332
  • Average Births per Woman: 5.31
  • Female Literacy: 60.7%
  • Population Living in Poverty: 40.5% (less than $1.25/day)
Read More

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Read Another Woman’s Story

  • 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.

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    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.

  • Queen

    Kenya

    “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.

  • Reeta

    Nepal

    Reeta arrived at International Nepal Foundation's fistula clinic with her younger son, Tej. They live in Kanchenpur, a 9 hour journey by bus from Surkhet. Reeta developed an obstetric fistula after her youngest son’s birth 33 years ago. She had delivered two sons previously at home without difficulty, but the third labor was more complicated.

  • Kaudha

    Uganda

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    Madagascar

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    Madagascar

    With a tube down her nose to her stomach, Lucie was unable to talk. Her sister, Elysa, relayed this story on her behalf.

  • NIrmala-Nepal

    Nirmala

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  • Tahinomenjanahary

    Madagascar

    Tahinomenjanahary went in to labor at the age of 17. Her labor was excruciating, but she did not begin the journey to the nearest hospital until she had been in labor for more than a day. In total, she labored for three days. The baby did not survive.

  • Flavia

    Flavia

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    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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    A mother of two, Harka Maya lives in Sindhuli, Nepal, roughly 80 miles (129 km) from Kathmandu. She developed a fistula last summer, while in labor with her third child. Being from a poor farming family, it was customary for her to deliver at home.

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    Umuhoza arrived at the hospital with two massive fistulas and could barely walk. She was so traumatized by her labor that she could not remember any details. Today she is healed, but the road to recovery has been long and difficult.

  • Djinto

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    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.

  • Celestine

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    In obstructed labor with her sixth child, Celestine was rushed to her local health facility, only to be told she couldn’t have emergency surgery until her family made a down payment. Anxious and afraid, she waited for her husband to return with the money needed.

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