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

  • 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.

  • Reeta

    Nepal

    Reeta arrived at International Nepal Foundation's fistula clinic with her younger son, Tej. They live in Kanchenpur, a 9 hour journey by bus from Surkhet. Reeta developed an obstetric fistula after her youngest son’s birth 33 years ago. She had delivered two sons previously at home without difficulty, but the third labor was more complicated.

  • Confidence from Liberia (WAHA)

    Confidence

    Liberia

    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.

  • Momakely

    Madagascar

    When it came time to deliver her baby, Momakely made her way to a health facility a great distance away from her home. But her labor was prolonged and difficult, and her baby did not survive. Momakely was left with an obstetric fistula for five years, until she learned about free fistula services offered by SALFA.

  • Wilmina

    Kenya

    “The last 22 years have been years of great pain, loss and very deep sorrows. I lost my baby, later lost my marriage, lost friends, and lost my only family (my parents). Fistula robbed me of everything that I once valued, and I have been left very empty.”

  • Goni-Ethiopia

    Goni

    Ethiopia

    Goni is fifteen years old and lives in a small village in the hills of northeastern Ethiopia. She married and became pregnant. During labor she developed a fistula; her husband abandoned her after the injury became apparent.

  • 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.

  • Queen

    Kenya

    “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.

  • Evelyn

    Kenya

    “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."

  • Harka Maya

    Nepal

    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.

  • Ndatsaha

    Madagascar

    Ndatsaha developed fistula when she went in to labor with her third child. She sought the services of a traditional birth attendant, as she had with her previous pregnancies, and as most women did in her community. But this time, things were different. The baby did not come, and Ndatsaha labored in excruciating pain for three days.

  • Hauwa

    Nigeria

    Hauwa was 60 years old when she became aware that the fistula she had suffered with for over 40 years could be repaired for free at our partner hospital, Evangel Vesico-Vaginal Fistula Center (EVFC).

  • Celestine

    Kenya

    In obstructed labor with her sixth child, Celestine was rushed to her local health facility, only to be told she couldn’t have emergency surgery until her family made a down payment. Anxious and afraid, she waited for her husband to return with the money needed.

  • 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.

  • Naomi

    Tanzania

    Naomi arrived at Tanga Health Center in northeastern Tanzania as a glowing 24 year old expectant mother and businesswoman with a supportive family and a bright future. She returned home with a healthy baby, but also a devastating condition that threatened to diminish that future - obstetric fistula.

  • Alradya-Sudan

    Alradya

    Sudan

    Alradya is 17 years old and lives in northern Sudan. When she was 15, she was married to her cousin, a farmer. She became pregnant and when she went into labor, had only her mother at her side. She endured excruciating labor for two days, but there was still no sign of the baby, which she could no longer feel moving. A traditional birth attendant was summoned to examine Alradya, who ordered that she be sent to the nearest hospital.

  • Mildred

    Kenya

    Mildred developed fistula after prolonged, obstructed labor with her second child. She endured two difficult months of life with fistula before receiving treatment through our Action on Fistula program.

  • Hadija

    Guinea

    By age 27, Hadija had already given birth to four children. Sadly, only two of her children survived. Making things worse, her last pregnancy left Hadija with an obstetric fistula.