Meet Harriet

Harriet leaked stool for two years before understanding that she was living with a treatable injury. 

Harriet's Story

“When I delivered my first baby in 2015 at the age of 17, I was still very young and naïve. I didn’t know what was normal or what was not normal following delivery. For about two weeks after I delivered my child, I struggled with uncontrolled leaking of stool. At some point, I gathered courage to ask the traditional birth attendant who had helped deliver my baby whether it was expected after childbirth to pass stool uncontrollably. She assured me that if I kept my legs tightly together for a couple of days, the problem would heal on its own,” Harriet said.

Harriet lives in Uganda, near the Kenyan border. She delivered her first baby at the age of 17 at home with the help of a traditional birth attendant. A week after delivering, she realized she had begun to leak stool. She followed the birth attendant’s advice to put her legs tightly together, but the problem did not go away. “It’s been embarrassing to even enjoy intimacy in my marriage,” Harriet shared. “I avoided sitting around people because I was always suspicious about myself. It didn’t matter how many times I took a bath, I always felt dirty.”

When Harriet became pregnant with her second baby, she had a difficult pregnancy. Her obstetric fistula grew even worse. When she began to experience labor pains, she consulted with her husband and received his support for delivering in a nearby private facility.

“After my baby was successfully delivered, the doctor advised me to seek treatment at Gynocare in Kenya,” Harriet said. Reflecting on her journey to Gynocare, she continued, “Borders won’t hinder me! The long trip was not an excuse. Not having been to Kenya before was not going to stop me. I brought my three week old baby and started my journey to this place. I don’t regret taking the risk, it has been worthwhile.

“I was surgically treated yesterday and I can’t wait to be my own self again! I have missed being clean, I have missed mingling with friends.” Harriet shared. Thanks to the support of Fistula Foundation partner Gynocare Women’s & Fistula Hospital, she received a free surgery through our Action on Fistula program – finally healing the obstetric fistula that she had endured for too long.

“I will be going back to my son and husband as a woman of dignity again,” she said.

About Uganda

  • Population: 38,319,241
  • Average Births per Woman: 4.8
  • Female Literacy: 71.5%
  • Population Living in Poverty: 18.7% (less than $1.25/day)
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