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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Read Another Woman’s Story

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    Betty developed fistula during her first pregnancy, after laboring at home for seven days. Her baby did not survive. Today, she is healthy once again thanks to free surgery provided through the Action on Fistula program.

  • Confidence from Liberia (WAHA)



    Pregnant with her second child, Confidence went to a local hospital to deliver her baby. But when her labor became obstructed, hospital staff weren’t able to perform the necessary Cesarean section and transferred her to a larger facility. Sadly, it was too late.

  • Alitash


    Alitash is 56 years old and lives in a small village about 50 kilometers east of Aira, a large town in western Ethiopia. She has given birth three times – her first two children died as teenagers, and the third was stillborn.

  • 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.

  • Fistula Foundation - Lia



    Lia arrived at CEML with great misgivings - she had sought help at many places for her fistula but was given no hope. A friend told her that she might find help at CEML and urged her to go, which she eventually did. She told staff there that she sat on some rocks nearby, cried and repeated “God help me” over and over before coming through the doors.

  • Umuhoza


    Umuhoza arrived at the hospital with two massive fistulas and could barely walk. She was so traumatized by her labor that she could not remember any details. Today she is healed, but the road to recovery has been long and difficult.

  • Pastor Raphael


    The fact that he is blind has never slowed him down, and at 45 years, Pastor Raphael is feeling young and energetic. As a child, Pastor Raphael was unable to finish school as he had tend to the family’s cattle, but he always felt a calling to become a pastor and to serve his community.

  • Levine


    Levine never imagined that appendicitis surgery would result in an injury that could devastate her life.

  • NIrmala-Nepal



    Nirmala is 25. She lives in Doti, in the far western region of Nepal. For many years, she lived in India, where her husband had found work. While living in India, she gave birth to her first child, a stillborn baby that was delivered after 24 hours of difficult labor that left Nirmala with a double fistula, in her bowels and bladder.

  • Mary


    Mary's first two pregnancies progressed normally, giving her two healthy children. But she never could have imagined what would happen when it came time to deliver her third child.

  • Harka Maya


    A mother of two, Harka Maya lives in Sindhuli, Nepal, roughly 80 miles (129 km) from Kathmandu. She developed a fistula last summer, while in labor with her third child. Being from a poor farming family, it was customary for her to deliver at home.

  • Alphonsia


    Alphonsia’s heart-wrenching story began 27 years ago after her labor failed to progress properly.

  • Vinesy


    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.

  • Christiana


    Pregnant at 16, Christiana suffered with fistula for several years before her successful treatment at our partner hospital in Monrovia, Liberia. Now, with the new skills she is learning through a patient rehabilitation program, she hopes to help support her family.

  • Soazara


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

  • Annonciata


    Annonciata is a 56-year old mother and farmer from a small village in Budaka District in Uganda. She had previously given birth to six children without significant complications, but her seventh delivery did not go as planned.

  • Sodreine


    Sodreine is from Iabomora Village, about 56km from Vangaindrano in Madagascar. She gave birth to her first child at the age of 17, but her labor did not progress as planned. As a result, she developed obstetric fistula.

  • Vitasoa


    Vitasoa is from the village of Manja, approximately 250km from the nearest city, Morondava. She developed fistula during the birth of her first child.