Dr. Charlotte Kaliti is a force to be reckoned with. She is the first female surgeon to complete Fistula Foundation’s rigorous training program in Kenya—and she’s just getting started. Dr. Kaliti commands the room as she sits at the head of a conference table in Nairobi. She looks impeccable—even though she entered only moments before…
She was afraid, and was in the house alone as her husband had died just a few weeks before. Helen had trouble walking because of the injury caused by the difficult childbirth, and felt that she was unable to stay around other people because of the bad smell. She used to walk with other women to collect traditional herbs to sell at the market as a small source of income. But once she developed the fistula she was unable to go out with other women, so she would hide in the bush and wait until they were gone to try to and collect a few herbs.
Helen confessed that she had never told anyone about her condition because she was afraid of what they would think or do. “They would just laugh at me and they wouldn’t be able to help me,” she said. So she lived in silence.
One day Helen heard the news from Pastor Raphael, a respected and trusted member of her community, that she had a condition that could be cured through surgery. Pastor Raphael had been trained by the organization, WADADIA, to sensitize his community about the signs and symptoms of fistula, and reassure women living with the condition that help was available.
Although she trusted Pastor Raphael, Helen was still anxious about going to the hospital as she did not know what to expect. When she arrived at Cherangany Nursing Home, however she met many other women who had the same problem that she had. She was comforted to see that she was not alone, yet she still wondered if she would actually get healed.
Helen underwent a successful repair surgery and is now she is back home in her community. She is dry and happy, and is able to socialize and go out with people once again. She has the energy she was missing and is able to go out to the farm and help her children. “I feel like a complete woman again,” Helen says, “and I say God bless you for that.”
- 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)