Meet Lucie

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

Lucie's Story

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

On February 25, 2009, Lucie went in to labor. On the third day she passed out from exhaustion, and on the fourth day, her lifeless baby was delivered by C-section. For the next three months, she was hospitalized. In and out of hospitals for the next several months, her doctors finally told her there was no more they could do to ease her suffering; she needed to go to Antananarivo, the capital city, to find help. But her family had already sold all three of their cows and there was no more money to pay hospital fees. For the next seven years, she was in immense pain, lying down for five or six days at a time to gain the strength to walk for two or three.

In 2014, she gave birth again, this time developing an obstetric fistula in the process. Her baby survived, but died one month after birth. Her husband decided to leave.

Lucie’s personality changed completely. Prior to losing her child and developing fistula, she was talkative and had many friends. But after the fistula, she became incredibly shy and withdrawn. The village found out about her condition. She tried to take her own life on several occasions.

One day, Lucie and her family learned about SALFA. A Catholic nun told them about a local doctor spreading the word about free fistula treatment available in Morondava, through SALFA. She was overjoyed: this was the first time in years that she was told she could be healed.

With her sister at her side, Lucie finally received the help she had been waiting for for years. SALFA was able to heal her fistula, and they were able to remove a bladder stone the size of two golf balls – the source of her pain for so long.

She is worried about how she will pay for the bladder stone removal, which will cost roughly $80 USD, but grateful for her restored health and new chance at life.

About Madagascar

  • Population: 24,430,325
  • Average Births per Woman: 4.12
  • Female Literacy: 62.6%
  • Population Living in Poverty: 75.3% (less than $1.25/day)
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Read Another Woman’s Story

  • Zatindravelo

    Madagascar

    When it came time to deliver her baby, Zatindravelo dutifully made her way to a medical facility to deliver, but her labor took a turn for the worse when there were no doctors or nurses present to assist her when she needed them most. She labored for 17 hours with her first child. The child did not survive. As a result of her prolonged, unrelieved labor, she had developed obstetric fistula.

  • Solange

    Madagascar

    Solange spent the majority of her teenage years suffering from obstetric fistula.

  • Mwajuma

    Kenya

    Mwajuma developed a fistula while in labor with her seventh child. Thankfully, it wasn’t long before she met Mariam, who helped her get free treatment through our Action on Fistula program in Kenya. With her health restored, Mwajuma now has plans to start a new business so she can help support her family.

  • Soazara

    Madagascar

    Soazara's husband abandoned her, because he could not stand her smell. Life became almost unbearable for her.

  • Elvanah

    Madagascar

    Elvanah gave birth to her first child at the age of 17. Her labor became obstructed, and ultimately was delivered via C-section. Her prolonged obstructed labor had resulted in an obstetric fistula.

  • Cellina

    Kenya

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

  • Levine

    Madagascar

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

  • Grace

    Kenya

    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.

  • Towanda

    Zimbabwe

    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.

  • Mary

    Kenya

    Mary's first two pregnancies progressed normally, giving her two healthy children. But she never could have imagined what would happen when it came time to deliver her third child.

  • Ravony

    Madagascar

    For the last eight years, Ravony has suffered with obstetric fistula, which caused her to leak urine uncontrollably. Her fistula was the result of a five day labor that ended in the death of her child.

  • Awetu

    Tanzania

    After Awetu developed a fistula following a difficult labor and delivery, her husband left her and married another. She was heartbroken.

  • Tovisoa

    Madagascar

    Tovisoa is hopeful as she waits for fistula surgery that could change her life.

  • Halima, from Somalia (photo credit: WAHA)

    Halima

    Somalia

    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.”

  • NIrmala-Nepal

    Nirmala

    Nepal

    Nirmala is 25. She lives in Doti, in the far western region of Nepal. For many years, she lived in India, where her husband had found work. While living in India, she gave birth to her first child, a stillborn baby that was delivered after 24 hours of difficult labor that left Nirmala with a double fistula, in her bowels and bladder.

  • Vitasoa

    Madagascar

    Vitasoa is from the village of Manja, approximately 250km from the nearest city, Morondava. She developed fistula during the birth of her first child.

  • Sofia - WAHA

    Sofia

    Liberia

    At 16, Sofia lost her baby boy in childbirth and developed a fistula, prompting her husband to leave her. Unaware what her condition was called or that treatment was possible, she became almost completely isolated over the next three years, giving up hope of ever being healed. A radio ad changed her life.

  • 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.