Meet Maho

At 20 years old, Maho is mother to two healthy children. In June 2016, when giving birth to her third child, her labor went quite differently. She endured an excruciating labor that lasted three days and resulted in a C-section. Her child did not survive, and Maho had begun to leak urine.

Maho's Story

Maho was only 16 when she had her first child. Now 20, she is mother to two healthy children. But in June 2016, when giving birth to her third child, her labor went quite differently. She endured an excruciating labor that lasted three days and resulted in a C-section. Her child did not survive, and Maho had begun to leak urine. She had developed obstetric fistula as a result of her prolonged obstructed labor.

Only Maho’s family knew of her injury. They were supportive, as was her husband, and took good care of her. But she stayed inside, isolating herself from her friends because she didn’t want them to smell her.

A local doctor told her about free treatment available through SALFA, a Fistula Foundation partner. Her father, Joseph, accompanied her for the 90km journey to SALFA’s treatment facility in Morondava. There, she received fistula surgery that would change her life.

On leaving the hospital, Joseph told SALFA staff that he would spread the word that there is a place for women to receive help. It is a common rumor among Malagasy people that surgery is bad, that surgeons cannot be trusted – especially surgeons providing free surgery – because they will steal body parts. But Joseph wants to change that. He wants to tell everyone that there are doctors in Morondava who treat fistula, that they will treat it for free, and that “nothing is removed from your body, it is only repaired.”

“Come to [the SALFA hospital in Morondava],” Joseph says, “you will be treated for free. Bring the women who are concerned by this problem; there are already people flowing. They are healed! Do come please because this [injury] is horrible.”

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

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    In May, 2013, Marivelo went in to labor with her first child. Her labor lasted for four days. The child did not survive, and Marivelo was left incontinent of urine. She had developed an obstetric fistula as a result of the prolonged, unrelieved labor.

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  • NIrmala-Nepal

    Nirmala

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  • Vinesy

    Madagascar

    Vinesy had surgery in April 2013 for appendicitis, but something went wrong and she became incontinent as a result. She had developed an iatrogenic fistula as a result of the procedure and had begun to leak urine uncontrollably.

  • 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.

  • Elizabeth

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    Elizabeth is mother to ten children. For nearly a year, she suffered in shame, uncontrollably leaking urine. A doctor misdiagnosed her condition as a urinary tract infection. Without a way to stop the incontinence, Elizabeth went to great lengths to hide her injury.

  • Ravony

    Madagascar

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    Habiba

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    Habiba was married at 16 and pregnant with her first child soon thereafter. She began labor at home, as most women do in Niger. After enduring two days of painful, obstructed labor, she was sent in an ox-cart to the nearest hospital. By the time she received a Caesarian section, Habiba had been in labor for four days. Her baby did not survive.

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