Meet Helen

Helen went into labor with her second child about four years ago. She gave birth in her home, where she labored for many hours, completely alone without anyone present to assist her. Her baby was stillborn and she began leaking urine immediately.

Helen's Story

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.”

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)
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    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.

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  • Nathi-Uganda

    Nathi

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    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.

  • 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.

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    Sylvia

    Kenya

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  • Fanny

    Zambia

    Fanny became pregnant by her boyfriend at 15. She was in labor for over 3 days, seeking medical care. Her family had to row a canoe for 6 hours to reach a hospital before Fanny finally delivered her baby through cesarean section. Fanny developed an obstetric fistula due to this ordeal, but her mother Dorcas was determined to find help for her daughter so that she could live a good life.

  • Rahima

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  • Mildred

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    Josephine

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  • Odeline

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