Meet Mayeye

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's Story

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)
Read More

We’re Making a Difference in Democratic Republic of Congo

News
“The Worst Place on Earth to be a Woman” [1:29]

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…

Read Another Woman’s Story

  • Habiba-Niger

    Habiba

    Niger

    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.

  • 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.

  • Bernard

    Kenya

    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.

  • 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.

  • Fistula Foundation - Hellen Aoko

    Margaret

    Kenya

    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.

  • Action on Fistula - Jane

    Jane and Elizabeth

    Kenya

    After suffering five miscarriages, Jane prepared to deliver her first child. But two days of difficult labor left Jane with an obstetric fistula. At home, she became traumatized by isolation and mistreatment from her husband, who had taken another wife. Her sister, Elizabeth, stepped in.

  • Janet

    Kenya

    Janet can't explain how she ended up at the political rally that day, but it changed her life forever.

  • Cellina

    Kenya

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

  • 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."

  • Rasoanandrasana

    Madagascar

    Rasoanandrasana's body had gone through a great deal of trauma from childbirth. At the tender age of 15, she was married, and it wasn't long after that she became pregnant. Her labor lasted more than 12 hours before her doctor delivered via Caesarian section. Her baby did not survive, and Rasoanandrasana was left with obstetric fistula.

  • Hadija

    Guinea

    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.

  • Queen

    Kenya

    “When my husband saw the many health issues I had, he despised me, he called me names and always told me in the face that I was more than crippled.” She was left on her own and most of the time starving. She reached at a point that she could not withstand the mistreatment and she went back to her parents. After a few years her parents died. “I walk like a crippled woman, there is nothing that I own on this earth, I don’t have a husband, I don’t have a baby. My life is so empty.” She has said that her deepest desire has been to die a clean woman. But at Gynocare, where she received fistula surgery through the Action on Fistula program, she is happy. Here, she feels loved and valued. She knows she has a family at Gynocare.

  • Florinda

    Angola

    Living in a small village in central Angola, Florinda was married in her teens and became pregnant at 16. Without access to emergency obstetric care, her difficult delivery caused her to develop a fistula. But today, she is smiling again.

  • 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.

  • Ndatsaha

    Madagascar

    Ndatsaha developed fistula when she went in to labor with her third child. She sought the services of a traditional birth attendant, as she had with her previous pregnancies, and as most women did in her community. But this time, things were different. The baby did not come, and Ndatsaha labored in excruciating pain for three days.

  • 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.

  • Siana

    Siana

    Burundi

    Siana is 17 years old and from Katanga Province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She developed an obstetric fistula after going through a difficult pregnancy at just 14.

  • Nathi-Uganda

    Nathi

    Uganda

    Nathi* lives in Uganda. She was married at the age of 13 and two years later was pregnant with her first child. After enduring a difficult labor, Nathi lost her baby and was left with obstetric fistula, incontinent and leaking wastes. Her husband abandoned her and soon after, her family did, too. At 15, she was alone and scared.