Meet Justine

Justine is 37 years old and lives in Bumasiki , a small village in Bugiri District in Uganda. When her labor pains began, she prepared to go to the hospital but didn’t have enough money to get there. She arrived 20 hours later after gathering sufficient funds from friends and neighbors; but by then, she had developed an obstetric fistula.

Justine's Story

When she found out she was pregnant with her 7th child, Justine began prenatal care visits at a nearby government health center; however, the nurses informed her that she would not be able to deliver her baby there as they did not offer delivery services. When the time came, she labored for nearly 24 hours before reaching the closest hospital. The doctor immediately performed a Cesarean section and was able to save the baby, but Justine had developed an obstetric fistula which left her leaking urine.

Justine leaked for 10 years until she was recently identified by a “fistula ambassador” during a community outreach session organized by our partner Uganda Village Project. She was brought to Kamuli Mission Hospital in Kamuli District and underwent a successful fistula repair surgery. She is now looking forward to going home to her family and wants to start a small business selling tomatoes in the evening market in her village.

About Uganda

  • Population: 35,918,915
  • Average Births per Woman: 5.97
  • Female Literacy: 64.6%
  • Population Living in Poverty: 38% (less than $1.25/day)
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We’re Making a Difference in Uganda

The Life You Can Save Charity

Featured by The Life You Can Save

This month, our partners at The Life You Can Save recommended Fistula Foundation as one of eight recommended charities working to restore vital, long-term services to the people of Nepal. Fistula Foundation’s work to support the Fistula Ambassador Program run by our partners at the Uganda Village Project was also featured: To view the full…

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Our Partner: Uganda Village Project

Uganda Village Project (UVP) works with marginalized populations in Iganga on issues related to health and sustainable development. One of their main projects is a ‘Fistula Ambassador’ program that was launched in 2014. Through this program, fistula survivors are identified and trained to become ambassadors in their communities – they raise awareness and identify and…

Read Another Woman’s Story

  • Harka Maya_patient photo_PHECT-Nepal

    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.
  • 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.
  • pushpa



    Pushpa is approximately 50 years old and from a remote village in western Nepal. When she arrived at Kathmandu Model Hospital, she was leaking urine and feces uncontrollably and was severely depressed.
  • rahila fistula foundation



    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.
  • Fatima, from Sudan (photo credit: WAHA)



    Fatima lives in Sudan. She went into labor at the age of 16, but initially didn't have access to a hospital. By the time she was taken to the hospital, the baby was dead, and Fatima developed an obstetric fistula. Her husband divorced her, leaving Fatima emotionally shattered by the loss of her husband and first born child.
  • Umuhoza, a recovering fistula patient at CHUK



    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.
  • Fistula Foundation - Hellen Aoko



    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.
  • Fistula Foundation - Khadija



    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.
  • Odeline



    As is the norm in Chad, Odeline was married at the age of 23 and soon became pregnant. The pregnancy went well and she delivered a healthy baby boy. Three years later she also delivered her second baby girl without problems. In 2006, she became pregnant with her third child. She carried the baby for nine months and expected the labor to be normal as in her first two deliveries, but after having been in labor for more than two days it was obvious something was seriously wrong.
  • Bilkis web version



    Bilkis is just 20 years old. She developed an obstetric fistula during the delivery of her first baby. Bilkis delivered under the guidance of a traditional birth attendant who encouraged her to continue her labor at home despite the fact that she had already been in labor for two days.
  • Jane_WADADIA_smiling



    As an outreach coordinator in rural western Kenya, Jane faces a number of challenges - including threats to her life - as she travels long distances in search of women suffering from fistula. But knowing that there are so many women who now enjoy life once again thanks to her efforts gives great meaning to her work.
  • Flavia



    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.
  • Queen



    “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.
  • 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.
  • Everlyn



    Everlyn developed fistula during her second pregnancy. Shunned and stigmatized by her own family, her husband stood by her side until she received successful treatment through the Action on Fistula program.
  • AR2013_CoverOption_1



    Sokhina endured four days of excruciating labor before delivering a stillborn baby. But her nightmare was just beginning: soon after she began to leak urine and learned that she had an obstetric fistula. She suffered with this injury for eight years before learning that help was available.
  • Selina Chepososir, 22



    Seline lives in a small village in the remote region of West Pokot, Kenya. She did not go to school and married young, as is tradition in this pastoralist community. She went into labor with her fourth child about three years ago, preferring to give birth at home with a traditional birth attendant from her village. Only 18% of women give birth in a health center in this region of Kenya, far below the national average of 44%
  • Josephine-Congo


    Democratic Republic of the Congo

    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.

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