In honor of International Women’s Day, Fistula Foundation CEO Kate Grant writes about how access to surgery and vocational training is empowering women—and impacting entire communities in the process. Read the story of Rose on Global Moms Challenge: #WomenInspire: How access to surgery and vocational training is changing lives – Global Moms Challenge Rose Chelimo…
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.”
- 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)