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

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

Read Another Woman’s Story

  • 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.

  • Naresia Kenya

    Naresia

    Kenya

    Naresia is a Masai girl from a rural village in Kenya. Only five months ago, at the age of 14, Naresia gave birth to a baby. After a prolonged and difficult labor, she awoke to find her bed soaked with urine. The doctors informed her that the delivery process had left her with an obstetric fistula and she was now incontinent.

  • Harka Maya

    Nepal

    A mother of two, Harka Maya lives in Sindhuli, Nepal, roughly 80 miles (129 km) from Kathmandu. She developed a fistula last summer, while in labor with her third child. Being from a poor farming family, it was customary for her to deliver at home.

  • Rose

    Tanzania

    Rose developed a fistula after her very first pregnancy, and has been suffering because of it ever since. For over fifty years she struggled, never knowing that treatment was available....until recently when she met Sister Anna, the head nurse of Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center's fistula ward in Moshi.

  • 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.

  • Padma

    Nepal

    “I have a second life. I am so thankful to Dr. Shirley, and so thankful to my husband who stood by me.”

  • Maho

    Madagascar

    At 20 years old, Maho is mother to two healthy children. In June 2016, when giving birth to her third child, her labor went quite differently. She endured an excruciating labor that lasted three days and resulted in a C-section. Her child did not survive, and Maho had begun to leak urine.

  • Zeinabou

    Niger

    Zeinabou comes from a village 100 miles north of Danja, Niger. She was married and became pregnant while still in her teens. As is the local custom, Zeinabou planned to deliver her baby at home because maternity services are not easily accessible.

  • Habiba-Niger

    Habiba

    Niger

    Habiba was married at 16 and pregnant with her first child soon thereafter. She began labor at home, as most women do in Niger. After enduring two days of painful, obstructed labor, she was sent in an ox-cart to the nearest hospital. By the time she received a Caesarian section, Habiba had been in labor for four days. Her baby did not survive.

  • Lida

    Afghanistan

    Lida gave birth to her first and only child 12 years ago. Sadly, the baby died shortly after it was born. Not only that, but Lida developed a fistula during the difficult delivery and started leaking urine constantly from that day.

  • 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.

  • Doris

    Zambia

    After two days of labor at a clinic hear her village, Doris was transferred to a hospital where the staff refused to give her the cesarean section she needed because "she was going to die anyway." Her baby did not survive and Doris developed an obstetric fistula. Her husband left, and soon, so did her hope.

  • Levine

    Madagascar

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

  • 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.

  • Fatma

    Tanzania

    When 18 year-old Fatma became pregnant, she did not have early and quality access to the healthcare she wanted when she gave birth. Fatma developed a fistula as a result of prolonged labor.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Harriet

    Uganda

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