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…
Felistas is 17 years old and from the town of Bumala, in Kenya. She was married at the age of 16 after becoming pregnant. She carried her pregnancy without any difficulties. She went into labour at midnight and, due to the lack of transport at this time of the night, she had to endure the pain until dawn. She was then rushed to the nearest healthcare facility and continued to labor for 12 more hours. At this juncture they realized that she needed to referred to another facility that could deliver her baby through an emergency Cesarean section. Sadly, she delivered a stillborn baby boy.
She started leaking urine after 2 days post operatively. At the beginning she thought perhaps this was normal. This had been her first pregnancy, so she thought that perhaps this was part of the delivery process. But after some days she realized that something had gone wrong. She talked to her nurses about it, but they incorrectly assured her that with time, the fistula would close up. While still at that facility, she developed other complications and was then referred to a provincial hospital level for surgery on these other issues.
She lived with fistula for two and a half months, which has been the most painful part of her life. In the beginning, her husband was very understanding and supportive. But, after receiving bad counsel from friends, his attitude towards her changed drastically. He told her that he could not stand the habit of sleeping on a wet bed every night. Felistas couldn’t go back to her parents’ home because she had left both her family and school for this man. Then, one day her husband left the home and never came back. Since that day, she had not known his whereabouts.
One unforgettable day, Felistas had gone to a health facility for a catheter change, and learned about fistula treatment provided by Gynocare, a partner in the Action on Fistula program. She couldn’t believe that she could receive free surgery through this program, and couldn’t believe that she wouldn’t have to wait for treatment – especially after hearing from her fellow patients how long many of them had lived with fistula. Then: she heard from her husband. He had learned that she was at Gynocare for corrective surgery. Now that her fistula has been repaired, she is looking forward to reuniting with her husband and living a life of dignity.
- 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)