Meet Janet

Janet can't explain how she ended up at the political rally that day, but it changed her life forever.

Janet's Story

“I stood at the farthest end of the field as I listened to a politician selling his manifesto at a shopping center in our village. As he continued with his agenda of convincing the members of the public to vote for him, at one point, he started calling on any woman with the leakage of stool or urine to come forth. I hesitated for a while, but when I saw two women coming out, I courageously decided to join them. That same day, we were brought here to receive surgical treatment. It’s true that “mourning may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” My morning has come! My morning has come!”

-Janet, pictured above, describes her path to the Kisii Gynocare Fistula Center

Janet is from Narok, a Maasai community in western Kenya. She is the mother of four healthy children, each delivered with the help of her mother-in-law, who happens to be known as the finest traditional birth attendant in the village. When Janet became pregnant with her fifth baby, her pregnancy progressed normally, until she went in to labor. She labored with the help of her mother-in-law for two days before it became evident to all that Janet needed professional medical attention.

“I almost died in the hands of my mother-in-law,” Janet recounted. But she was rushed to the hospital where her life was saved. Her baby did not survive. After one week, Janet realized that she had begun to leak urine. Her prolonged obstructed labor had resulted in an obstetric fistula.

Day after day, Janet kept hoping her problem would go away, but days turned into weeks, then months. Eventually 14 years had passed since she had developed fistula.

“I was always on my own. I avoided social places. Life became even worse when my husband died, because I struggled a lot to make ends meet. On several occasions, I was denied menial work because of my bad odor. I will never forget the time a young woman chased me from her compound, shouting at me: go away, you stinking woman! Sadness overflowed my heart and I wondered why death chose to take a healthy man like my husband instead of me, since I was already half dead and rotten,” Janet said.

Janet can’t explain how she found herself at the political rally that day, since she usually avoids being in crowded public places. She attributes it to divine intervention. Today, at the age of 40, she is healed and finally free of her fistula.

“I have never voted,” said Janet, “But now since I am clean and I can freely mingle with other people, I can’t wait to vote for my preferred candidates after not being able to vote in the last four elections. And you can be sure, the candidate who sent me for treatment has my vote.”

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)
Read More

We’re Making a Difference in Kenya

News
Out of the Margins #2 – This doctor is unstoppable

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…

News
Fistula Foundation partners with Quilts For Empowerment

Fistula Foundation is partnering with Quilts for Empowerment, an organization that teaches quilting to impoverished women in Kenya, including obstetric fistula survivors. Quilts for Empowerment has completed many quilt commissions for Fistula Foundation, with each one featuring the women’s work. Read more: Fistula Foundation partners with QFE Quilts for Empowerment is honored to announce that…

Read Another Woman’s Story

  • Zeinabou

    Niger

    Zeinabou comes from a village 100 miles north of Danja, Niger. She was married and became pregnant while still in her teens. As is the local custom, Zeinabou planned to deliver her baby at home because maternity services are not easily accessible.

  • Umuhoza

    Rwanda

    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.

  • Naresia Kenya

    Naresia

    Kenya

    Naresia is a Masai girl from a rural village in Kenya. Only five months ago, at the age of 14, Naresia gave birth to a baby. After a prolonged and difficult labor, she awoke to find her bed soaked with urine. The doctors informed her that the delivery process had left her with an obstetric fistula and she was now incontinent.

  • Flavia

    Flavia

    Angola

    Flavia is a shy 17 year old girl who was married when she was just 15. Soon after, she became pregnant. Her labor began at home, but the family was unprepared when the labor became obstructed. Not knowing what to do, they finally took her to a hospital.

  • Maho

    Madagascar

    At 20 years old, Maho is mother to two healthy children. In June 2016, when giving birth to her third child, her labor went quite differently. She endured an excruciating labor that lasted three days and resulted in a C-section. Her child did not survive, and Maho had begun to leak urine.

  • Fistula Foundation - Maria

    Maria

    Zimbabwe

    Maria is 42 years old. She is HIV-positive and currently on antiretroviral therapy. Maria doesn’t have a permanent place to live – she cannot work because of her incontinence, and has no real income to live on. She survives through the ongoing support of her relatives and friends.

  • Gul-Afghanistan

    Gul

    Afghanistan

    Gul lives in Afghanistan. At 13 years old, her father arranged for her to marry an older man who had another wife, and after one year of marriage, Gul became pregnant. When she went into labor, it lasted for two days. There were no clinics or doctors where she lived and Gul's husband became worried. He took her to her father's house, where Gul's father killed a sheep and placed the sheepskin on her as part of a traditional treatment used in her area. After three days of wearing the sheepskin, Gul delivered a stillborn baby.

  • Mary A.

    Kenya

    Mary waited her whole life to have a child. At the age of 47 she finally became pregnant. But her labor was difficult, and her child did not survive. She developed fistula as a result. She was ostracized by her family and shunned by the entire community, until finally, at the age of 73, she finally accessed a free surgery that would change the rest of her life, and remind her what it felt like to feel "human" again.

  • Felana

    Madagascar

    At the tender age of 15, Felana became pregnant. She suffered a prolonged obstructed labor, and by the time her stillborn baby was delivered, she had developed obstetric fistula.

  • Christiana

    Liberia

    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.

  • Fatma

    Tanzania

    When 18 year-old Fatma became pregnant, she did not have early and quality access to the healthcare she wanted when she gave birth. Fatma developed a fistula as a result of prolonged labor.

  • Rasoandrana Marie Lucie

    Madagascar

    Rasoandrana Marie Lucie became pregnant at the age of 15. Her labor began in April, 2016, and lasted for an excruciating three days. Eventually, the baby was delivered via C-section at a government hospital. The child did not survive. Not long after, Rasoandrana began leaking urine: the difficult labor had left her with obstetric fistula.

  • Halima

    Halima

    Kenya

    Originally from Somalia and now living in Kenya, in the world’s largest refugee camp, Halima has been through a hell few can imagine. But after traveling over 1,000 miles seeking fistula treatment, she is finally healed.

  • Mayeye

    Democratic Republic of Congo

    In the year 2000, Mayeye was pregnant with her fourth child. Not long after giving birth, she felt intense pain in her abdomen and began leaking urine. She had developed obstetric fistula. Despite her injury, Mayeye continued working on her family’s small farm. She had no choice but to work through the pain, because her family was depending on her.

  • Fistula Foundation - Khadija

    Khadijah

    Chad

    Khadijah lived with fistula for 18 years, and it isolated her from everything and everyone around her. Originally from Chad's northern region of Bar Elgazel, she was married when she was only 14 years old. Her first pregnancy came three years afterwards and, not knowing the importance of seeking health care or treatment, she never received any prenatal care.

  • Romenisoa

    Madagascar

    Today, Romenisoa is happy because her free surgery was successful, and she is no longer leaking. She is happy and grateful that now she can do her farming in peace, free from fistula.

  • Serafina

    Angola

    Serafina is 18 years old and from the Mukubal tribe in southwestern Angola. Married off at a young age and one of several wives, Serafina became pregnant when she was 14. She is very small-boned and was suffering from malnutrition when she came to the hospital, as food is often scarce in that part of the country. As a result of that and other factors, her delivery did not go well.