Fistula Foundation - Lia

Meet 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.

Lia's Story

Lia was 17 when she married, and soon became pregnant. After a day of labor, her mother-in-law told her not to worry, it would be alright. But the pains the next day were worse. They had not considered the option of going to a clinic because of the danger of traveling during the war – there was intense fighting nearby. After five days of labor, however, they decided it was too much and risked the journey in order to save her life. They had a bicycle, and one man sat in front and one on a back seat and carried her on their shoulders to the nearest clinic.

At the clinic, staff members were able to pull a stillborn baby from Lia’s body. Recalling that sad day, Lia said, “I wanted to die too.” After so much damage to her tissues, she was left without any control of her urine. She would change her skirt only to have it soaked again, and had to change several times a day. She could not go to church and sit down because she would leave a puddle.

Many of her family members were killed during the war. It was just Lia and her husband, who did not leave as many husbands do in the case of fistula. They went on to have three more children, all born without difficulties.

Now 49, Lia had lived with incontinence for over 30 years before arriving at CEML. After the operation to repair her fistula, she was finally dry. She could hardly allow herself to believe it. After a week, she whispered to doctors how wonderful it was to sleep in a dry bed. “If I had only known, I would have come sooner,” Lia said. She plans to let other women in the community know that there is hope when it comes to the problems resulting from an obstetric fistula.

About Angola

  • Population: 20,172,332
  • Average Births per Woman: 5.31
  • Female Literacy: 60.7%
  • Population Living in Poverty: 40.5% (less than $1.25/day)
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    Lida gave birth to her first and only child 12 years ago. Sadly, the baby died shortly after it was born. Not only that, but Lida developed a fistula during the difficult delivery and started leaking urine constantly from that day.

  • Djinto

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    Halima is yet another brave fistula survivor from Somalia. “When I went to labour, the pain got stronger and stronger and lasted on and on. Something was not right. It took two days to convince my husband to bring me to a health facility. The doctors that saw me decided to immediately carry out a cesarean section. But they had no anesthesia. The pain was unbearable, and when I screamed they started beating me. My baby could not be saved and I developed what I later learned was an obstetric fistula. My husband left me because he could not stand the smell caused by my injury.”

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    Sujata lives in Bajura, a very poor and remote mountain district in western Nepal. She lives with her husband, whom she married when she was 16 years old, and his family in a small house shared by 12 people. One year after their wedding, Sujata was looking forward to the birth of her first child. There was no health facility nearby, so when Sujata’s labor entered its eighth day, the family called on the local birth attendant.

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

  • Towanda

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    Towanda is 20 years old and from a rural area just outside of Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital city. Four years ago at the age of 16, she became pregnant. When the time came to deliver, there were a lot of complications.

  • Florinda

    Angola

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  • Umuhoza

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    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.

  • Grace

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    Grace got married in 1994, and explained that she immediately felt a burden upon herself to give birth to as many children as possible as quickly as possible in order to earn respect and stability in her marriage. This, she said, is the status quo in the rural African context.

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    Jahanara is just 23 years old. She was in labor for a full day at home before going to a hospital for an emergency C-section. By then, unfortunately, the damage had already been done.

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    Nirmala

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  • Justine

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  • Hadija

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    Hadija is 27 years old. She has given birth to four children in her life, but sadly two of them did not survive. To make things worse, her last pregnancy left Hadija with an obstetric fistula.

  • Rasoanirina

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  • Alitash

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