Gul-Afghanistan

Meet Gul

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.

Gul's Story

After delivery, Gul was unable to control her urine. At first, she thought her fistula was an illness that she would recover from. The first wife was happy about Gul’s problem because this would keep Gul away from their husband. Over time, the other wife became upset when she realized that without Gul’s help she would have to tend to the housework, almond trees, cows and oxen all by herself.

Gul suffered with her fistula for a few years before her husband took her to Kabul for treatment, then to Pakistan, and then back to Kabul. None of the surgeries she received healed her. Over this period of time, Gul had eight pregnancies. Six of her children are alive today.

Gul leaked for 12 years before receiving treatment from CURE Hospital in Kabul, a Fistula Foundation grantee partner. A neighbor had gone through successful fistula repair surgery at CURE and urged Gul to go. Her husband took her immediately.

After a four day journey by bus, Gul and her husband arrived at the hospital. Scar tissue from the previous surgeries made Gul’s operation very complicated, but eventually she was healed. When she was released from the hospital to return home with her husband, Gul’s doctors reported that she told them, “I am dry and I am happy! I am smiling and some days I am feeling like a Queen! I hope you can find more sponsors so that you can continue to help more women with this problem.”

About Afghanistan

  • Population: 33,332,025
  • Average Births per Woman: 5.22
  • Female Literacy: 24.2%
  • Population Living in Poverty: 36% (less than $1.25/day)
Read More

We’re Making a Difference in Afghanistan

News
Campaign for Afghanistan – You Did It!

You helped raise over $200,000 for women in need You are changing lives! Thanks to over 300 kindhearted supporters like you, we fulfilled our $200,000 pledge to support vital fistula care in Afghanistan. Because of your compassion, CURE International’s dynamic, all-female fistula team can continue their critical work, filling an acute need for more female…

News
Women Helping Women in Afghanistan: CURE International Hospital [2:02]

Against a backdrop of continuing violence and oppression of women in Afghanistan, a heroic team of all-female surgeons are doing the nearly impossible: delivering life-changing fistula surgeries to women in need. Fistula Foundation has pledged $200,000 to help our hospital partner, CURE International. A generous donor will MATCH the first $20,000 in gifts to support…

Read Another Woman’s Story

  • Soazara

    Madagascar

    Soazara's husband abandoned her, because he could not stand her smell. Life became almost unbearable for her.

  • 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.

  • Debora

    Angola

    Debora lives in a tiny Angolan village quite far from any emergency medical services. In 2008, she was in labor with her fourth child for nearly a week before her uncle finally brought her to a hospital.

  • Justine

    Uganda

    Justine is 37 years old and lives in Bumasiki , a small village in Bugiri District in Uganda. When her labor pains began, she prepared to go to the hospital but didn’t have enough money to get there. She arrived 20 hours later after gathering sufficient funds from friends and neighbors; but by then, she had developed an obstetric fistula.

  • Nura

    Chad

    Nura comes from Lai, a region in the south of Chad where she married at age 17. She first became pregnant at 20 and tried to give birth at home, aided only by her family. After 4 days of complicated labor, she was finally taken to the maternity center in Guidari, a nearby village.

  • 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.

  • Rasoandrana Marie Lucie

    Madagascar

    Rasoandrana Marie Lucie became pregnant at the age of 15. Her labor began in April, 2016, and lasted for an excruciating three days. Eventually, the baby was delivered via C-section at a government hospital. The child did not survive. Not long after, Rasoandrana began leaking urine: the difficult labor had left her with obstetric fistula.

  • Domitila

    Domitila

    Angola

    In 2012 Domitila became pregnant with her 9th baby. During her final trimester, she had a severe episode of bleeding. Her family realized this indicated the baby had died, but hoped she would still be able to push it out on her own at home. When nothing happened, they finally took her to the hospital where a hysterectomy was done. After this, she no longer was able to control her urine - she had developed a fistula.

  • Kaudha

    Uganda

    Kaudha is from eastern Uganda. At age 27, she developed a fistula after spending hours in labor with her third child. Unfortunately, the baby did not survive, and Kaudha’s condition left her feeling isolated from friends and loved ones. But in fall 2015, her story—and her outlook—changed dramatically.

  • Sokhina

    Bangladesh

    Sokhina endured four days of excruciating labor before delivering a stillborn baby. But her nightmare was just beginning: soon after she began to leak urine and learned that she had an obstetric fistula. She suffered with this injury for eight years before learning that help was available.

  • Betty

    Zambia

    Betty labored at home for two days before she realized something was terribly wrong with her labor. To reach the nearest hospital, she traveled from her island by boat, someone paddling her there for three hours. Her baby did not survive, and Betty was left with obstetric fistula.

  • 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.

  • Ravony

    Madagascar

    For the last eight years, Ravony has suffered with obstetric fistula, which caused her to leak urine uncontrollably. Her fistula was the result of a five day labor that ended in the death of her child.

  • 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.

  • Jacqueline

    Zambia

    During her first pregnancy in 2008, Jacqueline was in labor for a day before she was taken to Muyombe Clinic and then on to Isoka District Hospital. Her baby was removed using forceps and the baby was still born. Then she began to leak feces and urine.

  • Molia

    Zambia

    In 1996, Molia was pregnant with twins during her seventh pregnancy. Her mother was a traditional birth attendant, so the first twin was delivered at home. But the second one was delivered at a rural health center and her delivery became obstructed. The baby did not survive. After her delivery, she sat on a bike and noticed she was wet. 

  • 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 - Elizabeth Atieno

    Sylvia

    Kenya

    Pregnant at the age of 13, Sylvia labored for two days before delivering a stillborn baby. She developed obstetric fistula, which led to two decades of shame and sadness. Then one day, she heard a radio announcement that would change her life forever.