Josephine-Congo

Meet Josephine

Josephine is from the northwestern corner of the Democratic Republic of Congo. 34 years old, she is the mother of two healthy boys, ages 11 and 9, the only surviving children from her four pregnancies.

Josephine's Story

It was the last birth that took the greatest toll on Josephine’s health. She had traveled 70 kilometers from home to the largest nearby town of Wamba, where she endured three days of labor and a Caesarian-section before giving birth to a stillborn baby. Her difficult labor left her with a prolapsed uterus and a fistula, and Josephine began leaking urine. She underwent three surgeries to repair the damage, but none were successful. Heartbroken, she returned home to her two children and to her husband, who left her soon afterward.

For 10 years, Josephine endured the shame and discomfort of her fistula, until one day, when she heard a radio announcement that gave her hope. An organization named HEAL Africa would be setting up a surgical camp in Wamba to treat women like her, who leaked urine. So, she started the four day walk to seek treatment.

HEAL Africa doctors determined that Josephine’s case was complex and required more than one surgery, so she was flown to the larger city of Goma, where a HEAL Africa hospital is located.

Doctors in Goma were able to repair Josephine’s prolapsed uterus and will soon operate to repair her fistula. And for the first time in a decade, she is hopeful. Her prospects of a healthy recovery are excellent and she is already making plans for her return to Wamba: she will live with her children and start a small retail business to support her family.

The Fistula Foundation is proud to provide funding that enables HEAL Africa to extend their reach from urban areas to the most rural, remote corners of DR Congo, allowing more women to receive the medical care that makes them whole again.

About Democratic Republic of the Congo

  • Population:
  • Average Births per Woman:
  • Female Literacy: %
  • Population Living in Poverty: % (less than $1.25/day)
Read More

We’re Making a Difference in Democratic Republic of the Congo

Dr. Denis Mukwege and Fistula Foundation CEO Kate Grant

News
Dr. Denis Mukwege Honored by ACOG

Congratulations to our partner surgeon Dr. Denis Mukwege, who was recently recognized as a College Honorary Fellow by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) at their 2015 Annual Meeting in San Francisco. Dr. Mukwege is the founder and lead surgeon at Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, one of our…

News
Dispatches from the Field

This September, Fistula Foundation Director of Marketing and Development Joop Rubens and Board member Dr. Larry William traveled to Central and East Africa to visit several of our partner sites. They began their journey at one of our longest-term partners, Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, before moving on to Kenya, Burundi…

Read Another Woman’s Story

  • Rahila

    Guinea

    Rahila never had the opportunity to attend school; instead, she sells donuts in the market and farms for a living. She married at age 14 and became pregnant soon thereafter. Unfortunately, Rahila developed obstetric fistula during delivery and was left leaking urine and feces.

  • Habiba-Niger

    Habiba

    Niger

    Habiba was married at 16 and pregnant with her first child soon thereafter. She began labor at home, as most women do in Niger. After enduring two days of painful, obstructed labor, she was sent in an ox-cart to the nearest hospital. By the time she received a Caesarian section, Habiba had been in labor for four days. Her baby did not survive.

  • Marizany

    Madagascar

    At the age of 18, Marizany and her husband looked forward to the arrival of their first child. But labor did not go as planned, and Marizany was left with an obstetric fistula, leaking urine uncontrollably. She suffered from fistula for 28 years.

  • Landy

    Madagascar

    Landy became pregnant at 14 years old. When it came time to deliver, she labored at home as most women do in her village. But after a day of excruciating pain, her labor did not progress and her family took her to the village hospital. The baby did not survive.

  • Kabuli, from Afghanistan (photo credit: CURE International)

    Kabuli

    Afghanistan

    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.

  • Margaret and Rose

    Kenya

    At the age of 14, Margaret was raped while fetching water at the local stream. She became pregnant as a result, and endured a difficult labor, which resulted in a stillborn baby and an obstetric fistula. An orphan, Margaret had nowhere to go, and nobody to help her through this terrible tragedy – except her sister, Rose.

  • Cellina

    Kenya

    Cellina Nyasugutha is a community health volunteer with Daraja Mbili, an outreach program based in Kisii.

  • Meranesoa

    Madagascar

    Meranesoa’s husband accompanied her to the hospital for her fistula surgery, and said he had every intention of helping, supporting and standing by her side while she received and recovered from treatment.

  • Lucie

    Madagascar

    With a tube down her nose to her stomach, Lucie was unable to talk. Her sister, Elysa, relayed this story on her behalf.

  • Alitash

    Ethiopia

    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.

  • Rose

    Tanzania

    Rose developed a fistula after her very first pregnancy, and has been suffering because of it ever since. For over fifty years she struggled, never knowing that treatment was available....until recently when she met Sister Anna, the head nurse of Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center's fistula ward in Moshi.

  • Annet Jane

    Annet Jane

    Uganda

    Pregnant at 14, Annet Jane suffered with a fistula for 23 years before receiving treatment. Now, she has hope for the future.

  • Jane

    Kenya

    Conducting patient outreach in rural western Kenya, Jane faces a number of challenges—including threats to her life—as she travels in search of women suffering with fistula. But knowing there are many women who are enjoying life once again thanks to her efforts gives great meaning to her work.

  • Fistula Foundation - Hellen Aoko

    Margaret

    Kenya

    Margaret is 36 years old and from a very remote village in southwestern Kenya. In this area, child marriage and polygamy are very common. At 16 years old, Margaret’s parents arranged for her to become the third wife of a man more than three times her age. She tried to resist, but eventually gave in to the marriage due to pressure from her family and community.

  • Dembe

    Uganda

    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.

  • Elizabeth

    Madagascar

    Elizabeth is mother to ten children. For nearly a year, she suffered in shame, uncontrollably leaking urine. A doctor misdiagnosed her condition as a urinary tract infection. Without a way to stop the incontinence, Elizabeth went to great lengths to hide her injury.

  • Betty

    Kenya

    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.

  • 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.