Violence and political instability continue to plague the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), effectively crippling its limited maternal healthcare infrastructure and abandoning women who are suffering with fistula. These grinding conditions prompted author and humanitarian Lisa Shannon to call it “the worst place on earth to be a woman.” This International Women’s Day, will you…
Mayeye lives in Bikoro, an isolated town in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). She lives on the other side of the country from HEAL Africa, Fistula Foundation’s partner in Goma, DRC. Despite the distance, Mayeye was able to receive fistula treatment after suffering for seventeen years.
In the year 2000, Mayeye was pregnant with her fourth child. Not long after giving birth, she felt intense pain in her abdomen and began leaking urine. She had developed obstetric fistula.
Despite her injury, Mayeye continued working on her family’s small farm. She had no choice but to work through the pain, because her family was depending on her. Mayeye—along with everyone else in her community—is a subsistence farmer. She and her family survive only from what they are able to grow themselves. So she pushed through the pain, thinking of her young daughter.
“I don’t want her to have this,” she said. “I want her to finish her studies and get a good job, not carrying loads.”
She began to seek any type of treatment available. The local government hospital in Bikoro didn’t have the capacity to treat fistula. Regardless, there was no way Mayeye would have been able to afford treatment. With so little energy left for farming, she couldn’t save up for surgery. Everything she earned went to feeding and educating her children.
In March 2017, however, everything changed.
After traveling for three days, HEAL Africa’s outreach team reached Mayeye’s isolated town. She heard about their free services through an announcement at her church—doctors were coming to treat women with her exact list of symptoms.
This was her chance—and perhaps her only chance. When HEAL Africa came to Bikoro Hospital, Mayeye made sure that she was one of the first in line for a consultation.
Today, Mayeye is finally dry. She is full of joy, and thanks everyone who made her life-transforming surgery possible.
“Thank you,” she said. “God must have touched them and sent them to help women with no means for treatment. May God bless them and provide them with many means to help more people. We will not forget them, and will think of them always.”
About Democratic Republic of Congo
- Population: 81,331,050
- Average Births per Woman: 4.53
- Female Literacy: 50%
- Population Living in Poverty: 63% (less than $1.25/day)