Meet Momakely

When it came time to deliver her baby, Momakely made her way to a health facility a great distance away from her home. But her labor was prolonged and difficult, and her baby did not survive. Momakely was left with an obstetric fistula for five years, until she learned about free fistula services offered by SALFA.

Momakely's Story

Momakely lives in a remote area of Madagascar. Her home is a great distance from the city of Morondava, but that was the closest large town to her home, so when it came time to deliver her child she dutifully made her way to a health facility there. But her labor was prolonged and difficult. Her baby did not survive, and Momakely was left with an obstetric fistula.

For five years, Momakely suffered with fistula. The smell of her incontinence kept her from interacting as frequently with others, and from enjoying the activities she used to enjoy. Her husband remained by her side, however, and his support was a great source of comfort.

Then one day she learned about free fistula services offered by SALFA in Morondava, and Momakely and her husband decided to set out for the hospital to seek care. Friends and family were concerned. They believed cultural myths that surgeons were “organ removers” and feared Momakely would die at their hands.

In August 2016 she was greeted warmly at the hospital where she would be healed. Her surgery was performed under spinal anesthesia, which allowed her to be conscious through the entire procedure. She watched as the surgeons healed her fistula. When they told her she was healed, she was overjoyed.

Momakely vowed to help other women with fistula access the free treatment she had just received. As she prepared to return home, she told hospital staff, “I will tell others because my eyes have seen. I will inform other women and tell them to come to SALFA Morondava.” Her husband vowed to do the same, to tell the truth to those who wrongly believed that surgeons would not help.

And then they left the hospital, happy to close this difficult chapter of their lives and start anew.

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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We’re Making a Difference in Madagascar

Your Donations at Work – Madagascar

Obstetric fistula happens most frequently in rural areas, where emergency medical care is not easily accessible. A woman’s risk of developing fistula is also exacerbated by cultural misunderstanding about doctors and surgery. Madagascar faces both of these challenges: its infrastructure is poor, which can make travel to the hospital complicated and dangerous. Also, there is…

Icon: How You Changed These Women’s Lives

Fistula Foundation’s work in Madagascar wouldn’t be the same without the amazing support of our partner, Icon. Read their Giveback recap blog post below, and the stories of women at SALFA, our partner in Madagascar: How You Changed These Women’s Lives 12/19/17 written by Natalie Pattillo How You Changed These Women’s Lives As a women-led…

Read Another Woman’s Story

  • Soazara


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

  • Aidah


    72 year old Aidah lived with obstetric fistula for an astounding 41 years before accessing treatment at Evangel Vesico-Vaginal Fistula Center in Jos. Her family stuck by her side the entire time, and recounted to hospital staff how fistula severely limited her (and their) opportunities and success in life.

  • Pushpa


    Pushpa is approximately 50 years old and from a remote village in western Nepal. When she arrived at Kathmandu Model Hospital, she was leaking urine and feces uncontrollably and was severely depressed.

  • Cellina


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

  • Kaudha


    Kaudha is from eastern Uganda. At age 27, she developed a fistula after spending hours in labor with her third child. Unfortunately, the baby did not survive, and Kaudha’s condition left her feeling isolated from friends and loved ones. But in fall 2015, her story—and her outlook—changed dramatically.

  • Jacklyn


    Jacklyn is just 29 years old, but has faced enough heartbreak to last a lifetime. Born and raised in Kisii County in western Kenya, Jacklyn was raised by her older sister because their parents abandoned them when she was a small child. She was never able to go to school because she had to do odd jobs along with her older sister in order to have enough food to eat at the end of the day.

  • Goni-Ethiopia



    Goni is fifteen years old and lives in a small village in the hills of northeastern Ethiopia. She married and became pregnant. During labor she developed a fistula; her husband abandoned her after the injury became apparent.

  • Alitash


    Alitash is 56 years old and lives in a small village about 50 kilometers east of Aira, a large town in western Ethiopia. She has given birth three times – her first two children died as teenagers, and the third was stillborn.

  • Celestine


    In obstructed labor with her sixth child, Celestine was rushed to her local health facility, only to be told she couldn’t have emergency surgery until her family made a down payment. Anxious and afraid, she waited for her husband to return with the money needed.

  • Felistas


    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.

  • Justine


    Justine is 37 years old and lives in Bumasiki , a small village in Bugiri District in Uganda. When her labor pains began, she prepared to go to the hospital but didn’t have enough money to get there. She arrived 20 hours later after gathering sufficient funds from friends and neighbors; but by then, she had developed an obstetric fistula.

  • Christiana


    Pregnant at 16, Christiana suffered with fistula for several years before her successful treatment at our partner hospital in Monrovia, Liberia. Now, with the new skills she is learning through a patient rehabilitation program, she hopes to help support her family.

  • Tovisoa


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

  • Blandine


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

  • Annet Jane

    Annet Jane


    Pregnant at 14, Annet Jane suffered with a fistula for 23 years before receiving treatment. Now, she has hope for the future.

  • Vitasoa


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

  • Queen


    “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.

  • Landy


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