Meet 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."

Evelyn's Story

Evelyn was forced into marriage back in 2000 when she was 20 years old, after she became pregnant out of wedlock. This is something common in her community because it is believed to be a bad omen for a girl to start having babies before marriage. When a girl finds herself in such a scenario, she is forced to marry the man who made her pregnant.

Evelyn delivered her first born child at a facility near her home in Nambacha, western Kenya. She successfully delivered her second baby on her own at home. She again got pregnant with her third baby in less than one year. She had a healthy pregnancy until when she went into labor. She immediately went to the nearest health care facility where she was left in labor for over 24 hours before being referred to a facility that could perform a Cesarean section on her. She lost her baby and started leaking urine after three days. She was assured the fistula would heal on its own and that it was a normal complication after undergoing a C-section.

“It was so painful to leave the hospital with the few clothes I had brought 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.” There was a total shift in her life, from enjoying a life of dignity to a life of shame, isolation and pain. The three months she lived with fistula seemed like three decades. But she was so happy because she did not have to suffer as long as other women who have lived with fistula for many years.

“I will forever be grateful to Action on Fistula for the new life they’ve given me,” she said. Today, Evelyn is happy and tells us that the surgery has saved her marriage, and she will be going back to her husband “as a woman again.”

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
Good Pharma: Astellas’ Action on Fistula works to build surgical capacity and transform patients’ lives in Kenya’

May’s edition of PMLiVE magazine features the piece ‘Good Pharma: Astellas’ Action on Fistula works to build surgical capacity and transform patients’ lives in Kenya’, for International Day to End Obstetric Fistula. The case study highlights Action on Fistula, the innovative partnership between Astellas Pharma EMEA and Fistula Foundation to transform the lives of women in…

News
Action on Fistula: Transforming the lives of over 2,300 women

On The London Economic, CEO Kate Grant highlights the Action on Fistula program, which delivered life-changing fistula treatment to over 2,300 women in Kenya. Fistula Foundation partnered with Astellas Pharma EMEA in 2014 to create this program to transform the fistula treatment landscape in Kenya. Read more below at The London Economic below: Action on…

Read Another Woman’s Story

  • 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.

  • Nura

    Chad

    Nura comes from Lai, a region in the south of Chad where she married at age 17. She first became pregnant at 20 and tried to give birth at home, aided only by her family. After 4 days of complicated labor, she was finally taken to the maternity center in Guidari, a nearby village.

  • Gul-Afghanistan

    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.

  • Beatrice-Kenya

    Beatrice

    Kenya

    Beatrice is 17 she lives in Western Kenya. Many women with fistula suffer for years or decades before they are able to access surgical treatment. Fortunately for Beatrice, who was 16 when she developed fistula, it was less than a month before she received treatment at the Nyanza Provincial General Hospital in Kisumu, Kenya. Beatrice developed fistula after laboring at home for two days in the presence of a traditional birth attendant.

  • Halima, from Somalia (photo credit: WAHA)

    Halima

    Somalia

    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.”

  • Meet Gladys

    Gladys

    Kenya

    Although she lives in a remote village in southwestern Kenya, successful patient outreach efforts helped Gladys get the treatment she needed. Now recovered, she has started a small business to support herself and her two children.

  • Ravony

    Madagascar

    For the last eight years, Ravony has suffered with obstetric fistula, which caused her to leak urine uncontrollably. Her fistula was the result of a five day labor that ended in the death of her child.

  • Pushpa

    Nepal

    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.

  • Selina

    Kenya

    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.

  • Awetu

    Tanzania

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

  • Levine

    Madagascar

    Levine never imagined that appendicitis surgery would result in an injury that could devastate her life.

  • Betty

    Kenya

    Betty developed fistula during her first pregnancy, after laboring at home for seven days. Her baby did not survive. Today, she is healthy once again thanks to free surgery provided through the Action on Fistula program.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Towanda

    Zimbabwe

    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.

  • Florinda

    Angola

    Living in a small village in central Angola, Florinda was married in her teens and became pregnant at 16. Without access to emergency obstetric care, her difficult delivery caused her to develop a fistula. But today, she is smiling again.

  • Justine

    Uganda

    Justine is 37 years old and lives in Bumasiki , a small village in Bugiri District in Uganda. When her labor pains began, she prepared to go to the hospital but didn’t have enough money to get there. She arrived 20 hours later after gathering sufficient funds from friends and neighbors; but by then, she had developed 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.