Fistula Foundation featured prominently in 10th Anniversary Edition of The Life You Can Save! Learn More

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)
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We’re Making a Difference in Kenya

Read Another Woman’s Story

  • Elvanah

    Madagascar

    Elvanah gave birth to her first child at the age of 17. Her labor became obstructed, and ultimately was delivered via C-section. Her prolonged obstructed labor had resulted in an obstetric fistula.

  • Odeline

    Chad

    As is the norm in Chad, Odeline was married at the age of 23 and soon became pregnant. The pregnancy went well and she delivered a healthy baby boy. Three years later she also delivered her second baby girl without problems. In 2006, she became pregnant with her third child. She carried the baby for nine months and expected the labor to be normal as in her first two deliveries, but after having been in labor for more than two days it was obvious something was seriously wrong.

  • Prisca

    Zambia

    Prisca was diagnosed with multiple fistulas, and feared she would have to live with the condition forever. Then, a radio program changed her life.

  • Ronasi

    Zambia

    After a difficult labor with her fifth child, Ronasi developed obstetric fistula. But Fistula Foundation's previous work to educate the community helped her receive treatment quickly.

  • Solange

    Madagascar

    Solange spent the majority of her teenage years suffering from obstetric fistula.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Romenisoa

    Madagascar

    Today, Romenisoa is happy because her free surgery was successful, and she is no longer leaking. She is happy and grateful that now she can do her farming in peace, free from fistula.

  • Umuhoza

    Rwanda

    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.

  • 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.

  • Levine

    Madagascar

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

  • 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.

  • Aneni

    Zimbabwe

    Before finding treatment through Fistula Foundation, Aneni* suffered with a terrible fistula for 35 years.

  • Harriet

    Uganda

    Harriet leaked stool for two years before understanding that she was living with a treatable injury. 

  • Aidah

    Nigeria

    72 year old Aidah lived with obstetric fistula for an astounding 41 years before accessing treatment at Evangel Vesico-Vaginal Fistula Center in Jos. Her family stuck by her side the entire time, and recounted to hospital staff how fistula severely limited her (and their) opportunities and success in life.

  • Alphonsia

    Tanzania

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

  • Abiar

    Kenya

    In her 23 years, Abiar has seen and experienced more sadness than most do in a lifetime. Losing her entire family to civil war in South Sudan in 2011, she married as a way to protect her own life. But soon the worst happened: with no access to health care, food or shelter, she became pregnant.