Action on Fistula - Jane

Meet Jane and Elizabeth

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.

Jane and Elizabeth's Story

In 1999, after suffering five miscarriages, Jane prepared to deliver her first child. But two days of difficult labor assisted only by a mother-in-law who had no medical skills left Jane with an obstetric fistula. Her baby boy survived, but the trauma of delivery took a serious toll on his developmental health.

At home, Jane became traumatized by isolation and mistreatment from her husband, who had taken another wife. Her sister, Elizabeth, stepped in.

“After seeing what Jane went through at her home, I decided to take her in to mine,” said Elizabeth. “The love for my sister was paramount and I wanted to give her all the best I could.”

Elizabeth’s husband and children were supportive of Jane joining their household, but there were other challenges. “When I took her in, I was already taking care of seven other children. Four of these were orphans left behind by my elder daughter who passed on together with her husband through HIV related illness. This was my biggest challenges when adding one more dependent who required close attention with my limited resources from our farm,” Elizabeth shared, tearfully.

Last year, Jane was visited by an outreach worker affiliated with Fistula Foundation’s Action on Fistula program, who shared information about fistula treatment. Jane was soon screened and referred for treatment.

“I was very overjoyed and thanked God and the doctors in whose hands He worked miracles to save my sister, in a way I never expected,” said Elizabeth.

Today, Jane is healed of fistula and remains warmly received by Elizabeth’s family.

“The most important thing is to show love and care to a sister who is a fistula survivor,” said Elizabeth, adding, “This will mean a lot to her.”

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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    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.

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    Rose developed obstetric fistula at the age of 16, during her first delivery. Life became very difficult for her, in a number of ways. She is not married, and her father is dead. Survival became a challenge.

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    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.

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    “It was so painful to leave the hospital with the few clothes I had bought for my baby. It was painful to walk out of the gates empty handed [without a baby] and to worsen the matter, with the leaking of urine."

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    “When my husband saw the many health issues I had, he despised me, he called me names and always told me in the face that I was more than crippled.” She was left on her own and most of the time starving. She reached at a point that she could not withstand the mistreatment and she went back to her parents. After a few years her parents died. “I walk like a crippled woman, there is nothing that I own on this earth, I don’t have a husband, I don’t have a baby. My life is so empty.” She has said that her deepest desire has been to die a clean woman. But at Gynocare, where she received fistula surgery through the Action on Fistula program, she is happy. Here, she feels loved and valued. She knows she has a family at Gynocare.

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    Kabuli, from Afghanistan, is the third of four wives. When she developed a fistula after enduring obstructed labor without any emergency medical care, her husband forced her into isolation within his home. Living in shame, Kabuli thought she would be miserable for the rest of her life.

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    Chepotyeltyel is a Pokot woman from a remote, rural area in northwestern Kenya. After suffering with fistula for nearly 50 years, she was finally able to receive free fistula treatment in July 2016.

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    Nazneen

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