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: 19,088,106
  • Average Births per Woman: 5.43
  • Female Literacy: 58.6%
  • Population Living in Poverty: 43.4% (less than $1.25/day)
Read More

We’re Making a Difference in Angola

Fistula Foundation: Your Donations at Work - Angola

News
Your Donations at Work: Angola

In 2013, Fistula Foundation began working with a new partner in Damba, Angola, known as Unidade Fístula Obstétrica (UFO). UFO is the only fistula treatment center in northern Angola, a country known for its poor health care infrastructure and the highest rate of child mortality in the world. In the first half of this project…

hpimpactthumb

News
Huffington Post: Dying From Corruption

By Kate Grant CEO, Fistula Foundation Humankind has triumphed over diseases that used to kill millions – think plague, smallpox and polio – but we haven’t seemed to slay the largest killer of them all: greed. In a riveting piece of stellar journalism, Nick Kristof and Adam Ellick of The New York Times posted this…

Read Another Woman’s Story

  • Jahanara-web version

    Jahanara

    Bangladesh

    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.
  • Felistus

    Felistas

    Kenya

    Felistas developed fistula at the age of 17, after delivering a stillborn baby via Cesarian section. Her husband left her because he could not stand her condition. She suffered alone until learning one day that treatment was available through the Action on Fistula program.
  • Hauwa Patient Story fistula foundation nigeria

    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).
  • 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.
  • Margart (l) with sister

    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.
  • Evelyn

    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."
  • maryama fistula foundation

    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.
  • Alitash

    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.
  • Aidah

    Aidah

    Nigeria

    72 year old Aidah lived with obstetric fistula for an astounding 41 years before accessing treatment at Evangel Vesico-Vaginal Fistula Center in Jos. Her family stuck by her side the entire time, and recounted to hospital staff how fistula severely limited her (and their) opportunities and success in life.
  • Patient.Story.Images.13.00342.pt.2014.2

    Justine

    Uganda

    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.
  • Nura fistula foundation2

    Nura

    Chad

    Nura comes from Lai, a region in the south of Chad where she married at age 17. She first became pregnant at 20 and tried to give birth at home, aided only by her family. After 4 days of complicated labor, she was finally taken to the maternity center in Guidari, a nearby village.
  • Rose website

    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.
  • Helen 1

    Helen

    Kenya

    Helen went into labor with her second child about four years ago. She gave birth in her home, where she labored for many hours, completely alone without anyone present to assist her. Her baby was stillborn and she began leaking urine immediately.
  • Betty

    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.
  • 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

    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.

We Need YOU!

To follow our work, sign up here for our e-newsletter...

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
* indicates required