Meet Gladys

Meet Gladys

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.

Gladys's Story

Gladys, 26, is from a very remote village in Kisii County, Kenya, in a region where child marriage and polygamy are common. Married at 18, she became pregnant with her first child a few months later. Her baby was born at the local health center with the help of a trained nurse.

In 2014, Gladys became pregnant with her second child. This pregnancy went as smoothly as the first one, but the delivery did not. She labored at home for the first 24 hours with the help of her husband, who eventually took her to the nearby health center. Because it was at night, it took Gladys and her husband three hours to find transportation to reach the hospital. They were finally able to get a motorbike, and had to travel for another hour to reach the health facility. Even after they arrived, it took two hours for the doctors there to help Gladys deliver her baby—a girl. Though her child survived, the ordeal left Gladys with a fistula.

As a result of her incontinence, she was abandoned by her husband. Gladys gave up hope that her injury could ever be healed. “I never knew what I was suffering from,” she says. “I thought I had been bewitched, since stool used to come out from me from the wrong place, and sometimes unexpectedly, and I had this stench that chased everyone away from me. But worse, I was shunned by everyone.”

Gladys sought help from different hospitals to no avail. For about two years, she lived with the shame and discomfort of her condition. Then one day, she heard a radio announcement that gave her hope. The outreach organization Daraja Mbili Vision Volunteers, a partner with our Action on Fistula program, was doing radio campaigns to educate community members about fistula and help women get free treatment. Gladys called the hotline and was referred to Kisii Gynocare Fistula Center, where she had successful fistula repair surgery in July 2016.

“Daraja Mbili Vision rescued me from this nightmare and gave me hope,” she says. “I am happy to say that today the future is looking brighter for women like me who have undergone fistula repair and are able to return to our communities.” Now healed, she is a happy woman. Just a few months following her surgery, she reports that she has started a small business selling bananas in a nearby market.

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

  • Fistula Foundation - Maria

    Maria

    Zimbabwe

    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.

  • 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."

  • Mary

    Kenya

    Mary, from rural West Pokot, Kenya, received free fistula repair surgery in 2015 after being referred for treatment by a community health worker. With a bright future ahead, she wishes to become a fistula ambassador herself.

  • Solange

    Madagascar

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

  • Tahinomenjanahary

    Madagascar

    Tahinomenjanahary went in to labor at the age of 17. Her labor was excruciating, but she did not begin the journey to the nearest hospital until she had been in labor for more than a day. In total, she labored for three days. The baby did not survive.

  • Hauwa

    Nigeria

    Hauwa was 60 years old when she became aware that the fistula she had suffered with for over 40 years could be repaired for free at our partner hospital, Evangel Vesico-Vaginal Fistula Center (EVFC).

  • 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.

  • Dembe

    Uganda

    Dembe did everything right during her pregnancy—she kept up all of her prenatal doctor’s appointments, and made sure that both she and her baby stayed healthy. When her labor began, Dembe walked the 10 kilometers from her home to the nearest heath center. She expected a normal delivery, but tragically, this would not come to pass—Dembe experienced a wrenching, prolonged labor, and her child did not survive.

  • Fistula Foundation - Lia

    Lia

    Angola

    Lia arrived at CEML with great misgivings - she had sought help at many places for her fistula but was given no hope. A friend told her that she might find help at CEML and urged her to go, which she eventually did. She told staff there that she sat on some rocks nearby, cried and repeated “God help me” over and over before coming through the doors.

  • Wilmina

    Kenya

    “The last 22 years have been years of great pain, loss and very deep sorrows. I lost my baby, later lost my marriage, lost friends, and lost my only family (my parents). Fistula robbed me of everything that I once valued, and I have been left very empty.”

  • Kemzo

    Madagascar

    Kemzo endured two to three days of excruciating labor before being taken to get a C-section at a public hospital in Vangaindrano. The prolonged obstructed labor had resulted in obstetric fistula.

  • Fistula Foundation - Nazneen

    Nazneen

    Pakistan

    Nazneen is a 47 year old mother of six who resides in the Balochistan region of Pakistan. She had been living with fistula for 14 years after experiencing a prolonged labor while giving birth to her sixth child.

  • Alradya-Sudan

    Alradya

    Sudan

    Alradya is 17 years old and lives in northern Sudan. When she was 15, she was married to her cousin, a farmer. She became pregnant and when she went into labor, had only her mother at her side. She endured excruciating labor for two days, but there was still no sign of the baby, which she could no longer feel moving. A traditional birth attendant was summoned to examine Alradya, who ordered that she be sent to the nearest hospital.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Felana

    Madagascar

    At the tender age of 15, Felana became pregnant. She suffered a prolonged obstructed labor, and by the time her stillborn baby was delivered, she had developed obstetric fistula.

  • 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.

  • Levine

    Madagascar

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