Meet Felistas

Felistas developed fistula at the age of 17, after delivering a stillborn baby via Cesarian section. Her husband left her because he could not stand her condition. She suffered alone until learning one day that treatment was available through the Action on Fistula program.

Felistas's Story

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.

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

Global Moms Challenge

News
Women Inspire: Rose’s Story

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…

News
The Pharma Letter – Setting up a successful corporate giving program

Astellas shares in The Pharma Letter the success of Action on Fistula, and the benefits of setting up an inspirational corporate giving program. Investing in a corporate giving program can be hugely beneficial, not just for the communities your organization supports, but also your business. As well as giving back to society and helping to…

Read Another Woman’s Story

  • Vinesy

    Madagascar

    Vinesy had surgery in April 2013 for appendicitis, but something went wrong and she became incontinent as a result. She had developed an iatrogenic fistula as a result of the procedure and had begun to leak urine uncontrollably.

  • 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.

  • Ana-Angola

    Ana

    Angola

    Today, Ana is 18 years old, with an enthusiastic outlook and bubbly smile. That wasn’t always the case. Ana was just shy of 16 years old when she became pregnant. Everything went well, until it was time to deliver. Her labor was excruciating, and lasted for days.

  • Kaudha

    Uganda

    Kaudha is from eastern Uganda. At age 27, she developed a fistula after spending hours in labor with her third child. Unfortunately, the baby did not survive, and Kaudha’s condition left her feeling isolated from friends and loved ones. But in fall 2015, her story—and her outlook—changed dramatically.

  • Christiana

    Liberia

    Pregnant at 16, Christiana suffered with fistula for several years before her successful treatment at our partner hospital in Monrovia, Liberia. Now, with the new skills she is learning through a patient rehabilitation program, she hopes to help support her family.

  • Fistula Foundation - Elizabeth Atieno

    Sylvia

    Kenya

    Pregnant at the age of 13, Sylvia labored for two days before delivering a stillborn baby. She developed obstetric fistula, which led to two decades of shame and sadness. Then one day, she heard a radio announcement that would change her life forever.

  • Rahima

    Bangladesh

    When Rahima was just 13 she was married to save her family money on living costs. She soon became pregnant and suffered through prolonged, obstructed labor that left her incontinent. She lived with obstetric fistula for 12 years before finally finding help through our partners at HOPE Foundation for Women and Children of Bangladesh.

  • 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.

  • Jacklyn

    Kenya

    Jacklyn is just 29 years old, but has faced enough heartbreak to last a lifetime. Born and raised in Kisii County in western Kenya, Jacklyn was raised by her older sister because their parents abandoned them when she was a small child. She was never able to go to school because she had to do odd jobs along with her older sister in order to have enough food to eat at the end of the day.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Fistula Foundation - Kamala

    Kamala

    Nepal

    Kamala is a 47 year old mother of four and from a very remote area of western Nepal known as Dailekh. She lived with fistula for eight years, but thankfully is one of few patients who had the support of her husband the entire time.

  • Evelyn

    Kenya

    “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."

  • Saran

    Guinea

    After developing a fistula with the birth of her fourth child, Saran received free fistula surgery at our partner site Jean Paul II Hospital in Conakry, Guinea.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

We Need YOU!

To follow our work, sign up here for our e-newsletter...

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
* indicates required