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

News
Margaret’s Story

Margaret received free treatment through Fistula Foundation’s Action on Fistula program. In this video, she shares her story.

News
Reuters – Africa fights fistula with mobile money and community ambassadors

In this Reuters article, various organizations and initiatives that are working to tackle obstetric fistula throughout Africa are highlighted, including Action on Fistula. Read the full article below: Africa fights fistula with mobile money and community ambassadors YAOUNDE (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – From training community ambassadors to encourage women with fistula to seek treatment, to…

Read Another Woman’s Story

  • 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.

  • Levine

    Madagascar

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

  • 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.

  • Sofia - WAHA

    Sofia

    Liberia

    At 16, Sofia lost her baby boy in childbirth and developed a fistula, prompting her husband to leave her. Unaware what her condition was called or that treatment was possible, she became almost completely isolated over the next three years, giving up hope of ever being healed. A radio ad changed her life.

  • Yvonne

    Zambia

    After suffering from obstetric fistula for 17 years, Yvonne boarded a bus that would take her to treatment. She was hopeful that on her return ride, she would be traveling in a dry dress for the first time in nearly two decades.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Sujata

    Nepal

    Sujata lives in Bajura, a very poor and remote mountain district in western Nepal. She lives with her husband, whom she married when she was 16 years old, and his family in a small house shared by 12 people. One year after their wedding, Sujata was looking forward to the birth of her first child. There was no health facility nearby, so when Sujata’s labor entered its eighth day, the family called on the local birth attendant.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Felistas

    Kenya

    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.

  • Everlyn

    Kenya

    Everlyn developed fistula during her second pregnancy. Shunned and stigmatized by her own family, her husband stood by her side until she received successful treatment through the Action on Fistula program.

  • Pastor Raphael

    Kenya

    The fact that he is blind has never slowed him down, and at 45 years, Pastor Raphael is feeling young and energetic. As a child, Pastor Raphael was unable to finish school as he had tend to the family’s cattle, but he always felt a calling to become a pastor and to serve his community.

  • Marivelo

    Madagascar

    In May, 2013, Marivelo went in to labor with her first child. Her labor lasted for four days. The child did not survive, and Marivelo was left incontinent of urine. She had developed an obstetric fistula as a result of the prolonged, unrelieved labor.

  • Hadija

    Guinea

    By age 27, Hadija had already given birth to four children. Sadly, only two of her children survived. Making things worse, her last pregnancy left Hadija with an obstetric fistula.

  • Serafina

    Angola

    Serafina is 18 years old and from the Mukubal tribe in southwestern Angola. Married off at a young age and one of several wives, Serafina became pregnant when she was 14. She is very small-boned and was suffering from malnutrition when she came to the hospital, as food is often scarce in that part of the country. As a result of that and other factors, her delivery did not go well.

  • 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.