Meet Francine

She became pregnant with her first child around age 17. Things did not go as planned, and Francine found herself in labor for three days. Finally, she was taken to a hospital where her baby was delivered via C-section. As a result of her prolonged obstructed labor, Francine had developed an obstetric fistula.

Francine's Story

Francine lives in a village approximately 30km from the closest nearby city of Morondava. Growing up, she had the opportunity to attend school, including a few years of secondary school before leaving to become a rice farmer.

She became pregnant with her first child around age 17. Things did not go as planned, and Francine found herself in labor for three days. Finally, she was taken to a hospital where her baby was delivered via C-section. As a result of her prolonged obstructed labor, Francine had developed an obstetric fistula.

It became difficult to juggle her new condition with the demands of her work as a rice farmer. She worried day in and day out about changing the rags she used to conceal her incontinence. For three years, she endured the shame of living with obstetric fistula.

One day, Francine’s friend was exposed to a SALFA community outreach effort while at the market. She told Francine, who connected with SALFA’s outreach workers for the help she so desperately needed

In June, 2016, Francine received a free, successful obstetric fistula surgery from SALFA. When Fistula Foundation’s team visited the SALFA hospital in Morondava in August 2017, Francine got wind of the visit and dropped by to simply say hello and express her appreciation. She came of her own accord – a very big deal, and a sign of respect, according to SALFA staff.

Now that she is cured, Francine reports she is healthy and happy. She is able to continue her rice farming work, which has become much easier without the burden of having to change out urine-soaked rags on a regular basis.

On the day she stopped by the SALFA hospital, she told Fistula Foundation staff how grateful she was for the partnership with SALFA. She thinks this is a very good thing for women, and encouraged Fistula Foundation to keep up this work so more women like her could get the help they needed.

About Madagascar

  • Population: 24,430,325
  • Average Births per Woman: 4.12
  • Female Literacy: 62.6%
  • Population Living in Poverty: 75.3% (less than $1.25/day)
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Fistula Foundation’s work in Madagascar wouldn’t be the same without the amazing support of our partner, Icon. Read their Giveback recap blog post below, and the stories of women at SALFA, our partner in Madagascar: How You Changed These Women’s Lives 12/19/17 written by Natalie Pattillo How You Changed These Women’s Lives As a women-led…

Read Another Woman’s Story

  • 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.

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

  • Chepotyeltyel

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    Chepotyeltyel is a Pokot woman from a remote, rural area in northwestern Kenya. After suffering with fistula for nearly 50 years, she was finally able to receive free fistula treatment in July 2016.

  • Felana

    Madagascar

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  • Christine

    Kenya

    Despite the efforts of one dedicated doctor who rode over an hour by motorbike late in the evening to help save the life of Christine and her baby, the baby did not survive. Her prolonged labor also resulted in obstetric fistula. Her husband abandoned her because he could not stand the smell of her incontinence, but her brothers defied cultural tradition and insisted she and her five children live with them. Then, a radio advertisement changed her life.

  • Kabuli, from Afghanistan (photo credit: CURE International)

    Kabuli

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    Kabuli, from Afghanistan, is the third of four wives. When she developed a fistula after enduring obstructed labor without any emergency medical care, her husband forced her into isolation within his home. Living in shame, Kabuli thought she would be miserable for the rest of her life.

  • Annet Jane

    Annet Jane

    Uganda

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  • Rasoanirina

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    Binta

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  • 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.

  • Vitasoa

    Madagascar

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  • Betty

    Kenya

    Betty developed fistula during her first pregnancy, after laboring at home for seven days. Her baby did not survive. Today, she is healthy once again thanks to free surgery provided through the Action on Fistula program.

  • Faith C.

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    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.

  • Soazara

    Madagascar

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    Maria

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    Maria is 42 years old. She is HIV-positive and currently on antiretroviral therapy. Maria doesn’t have a permanent place to live – she cannot work because of her incontinence, and has no real income to live on. She survives through the ongoing support of her relatives and friends.