Fistula Foundation - Maria

Meet Maria

Maria is 42 years old. She is HIV-positive and currently on antiretroviral therapy. Maria doesn’t have a permanent place to live – she cannot work because of her incontinence, and has no real income to live on. She survives through the ongoing support of her relatives and friends.

Maria's Story

Maria learned about WAHA’s fistula treatment program through outreach activities conducted in Zimbabwe. When she arrived at the hospital, staff asked her how long she had been living with fistula. She answered that she was unsure, but thought it had been over 22 years. This means that Maria had been forced to endure leaking urine and incontinence for more than half her life.

Thanks to expert surgeon Dr. Ambaye Wolde and the help of the local medical staff, Maria was successfully operated on. The surgery freed her from the burden of obstetric fistula and has given her a new lease of life – a life where she is able to focus on spending time with her loved ones and building up strength in her ongoing battle against HIV.

About Zimbabwe

  • Population: 14,149,648
  • Average Births per Woman: 3.56
  • Female Literacy: 80.1%
  • Population Living in Poverty: % (less than $1.25/day)
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We’re Making a Difference in Zimbabwe

Your Donations at Work - Zimbabwe

Your Donations at Work: Zimbabwe

Following a pilot project in 2013, we were able to establish routine fistula care services in Zimbabwe in conjunction with our long-term partner, Women and Health Alliance International (WAHA). Over the last year, 198 women received free, life-transforming repair surgeries at Parirenyatwa Hospital and Harare Central Hospital thanks to your support. These women also received…

Voice of America

US-Based Fistula Foundation to Launch Zimbabwe Pilot Program

An interview with Fistula Foundation CEO Kate Grant was featured on Voice of America Zimbabwe this week. The interview focuses on the physical and social consequences of obstetric fistula and a pilot program in Zimbabwe to help women suffering from fistula get the treatment they need.   US-Based Fistula Foundation to Launch Zimbabwe Pilot Program…

Read Another Woman’s Story

  • Bernard


    Bernard Owino is one of six county mobilizers with Disciples of Mercy (DOM), an organization that runs a fistula outreach program in Kisumu. Before joining DOM, he worked with orphans and other vulnerable populations in the region for four years as a social worker.

  • Betty


    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.

  • Ana-Angola



    Today, Ana is 18 years old, with an enthusiastic outlook and bubbly smile. That wasn’t always the case. Ana was just shy of 16 years old when she became pregnant. Everything went well, until it was time to deliver. Her labor was excruciating, and lasted for days.

  • Elizabeth


    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.

  • Sofia - WAHA



    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.

  • Fistula Foundation - Kamala



    Kamala is a 47 year old mother of four and from a very remote area of western Nepal known as Dailekh. She lived with fistula for eight years, but thankfully is one of few patients who had the support of her husband the entire time.

  • Blandine


    Blandine was so happy to be free of her fistula, that "she honestly couldn't stop laughing, which was so heartwarming!"

  • 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.

  • Jahanara


    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.

  • Serafina


    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.

  • Nura


    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.

  • Hadija


    By age 27, Hadija had already given birth to four children. Sadly, only two of her children survived. Making things worse, her last pregnancy left Hadija with an obstetric fistula.

  • Faith C.


    A terrifying rape resulted in pregnancy and an obstetric fistula for Faith. But today she is healed and looking forward to a future where she can use her experience to help other women in similar positions.

  • Gul-Afghanistan



    Gul lives in Afghanistan. At 13 years old, her father arranged for her to marry an older man who had another wife, and after one year of marriage, Gul became pregnant. When she went into labor, it lasted for two days. There were no clinics or doctors where she lived and Gul's husband became worried. He took her to her father's house, where Gul's father killed a sheep and placed the sheepskin on her as part of a traditional treatment used in her area. After three days of wearing the sheepskin, Gul delivered a stillborn baby.

  • Zeinabou


    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.

  • Cellina


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

  • Francine


    She became pregnant with her first child around age 17. Things did not go as planned, and Francine found herself in labor for three days. Finally, she was taken to a hospital where her baby was delivered via C-section. As a result of her prolonged obstructed labor, Francine had developed an obstetric fistula.

  • Meranesoa


    Meranesoa’s husband accompanied her to the hospital for her fistula surgery, and said he had every intention of helping, supporting and standing by her side while she received and recovered from treatment.