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

  • Josephine-Congo

    Josephine

    Democratic Republic of the Congo

    Josephine is from the northwestern corner of the Democratic Republic of Congo. 34 years old, she is the mother of two healthy boys, ages 11 and 9, the only surviving children from her four pregnancies.

  • Celestine

    Kenya

    In obstructed labor with her sixth child, Celestine was rushed to her local health facility, only to be told she couldn’t have emergency surgery until her family made a down payment. Anxious and afraid, she waited for her husband to return with the money needed.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Jahanara

    Bangladesh

    Jahanara is just 23 years old. She was in labor for a full day at home before going to a hospital for an emergency C-section. By then, unfortunately, the damage had already been done.

  • Flavia

    Flavia

    Angola

    Flavia is a shy 17 year old girl who was married when she was just 15. Soon after, she became pregnant. Her labor began at home, but the family was unprepared when the labor became obstructed. Not knowing what to do, they finally took her to a hospital.

  • 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).

  • Ndatsaha

    Madagascar

    Ndatsaha developed fistula when she went in to labor with her third child. She sought the services of a traditional birth attendant, as she had with her previous pregnancies, and as most women did in her community. But this time, things were different. The baby did not come, and Ndatsaha labored in excruciating pain for three days.

  • 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.

  • Nanyoor

    Tanzania

    Nanyoor experienced a terrible obstructed labor when she was only 16 years old. She is a member of the Maasai tribe in northern Tanzania, and her remote community is miles away from any major healthcare facility.

  • Nathi-Uganda

    Nathi

    Uganda

    Nathi* lives in Uganda. She was married at the age of 13 and two years later was pregnant with her first child. After enduring a difficult labor, Nathi lost her baby and was left with obstetric fistula, incontinent and leaking wastes. Her husband abandoned her and soon after, her family did, too. At 15, she was alone and scared.

  • Awetu

    Tanzania

    After Awetu developed a fistula following a difficult labor and delivery, her husband left her and married another. She was heartbroken.

  • Naomi

    Tanzania

    Naomi arrived at Tanga Health Center in northeastern Tanzania as a glowing 24 year old expectant mother and businesswoman with a supportive family and a bright future. She returned home with a healthy baby, but also a devastating condition that threatened to diminish that future - obstetric fistula.

  • Elizabeth

    Madagascar

    Elizabeth is mother to ten children. For nearly a year, she suffered in shame, uncontrollably leaking urine. A doctor misdiagnosed her condition as a urinary tract infection. Without a way to stop the incontinence, Elizabeth went to great lengths to hide her injury.

  • Fistula Foundation - Binta

    Binta

    Guinea

    Binta is 35 years old and from Fidi, a landlocked village in northwestern Guinea. At 14 years old she was forced to marry a much older man, and soon became pregnant. After five days of painful labor, she lost her baby. A few days later, she realized that she was not able to control her urine. The difficult labor had left her with an obstetric fistula.

  • 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.

  • Mulamba

    Democratic Republic of Congo

    With her health restored, Mulamba is eager to return to her job as a schoolteacher.