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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Read Another Woman’s Story

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

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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.

  • Lucie

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    With a tube down her nose to her stomach, Lucie was unable to talk. Her sister, Elysa, relayed this story on her behalf.

  • Fanny

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    Fanny became pregnant by her boyfriend at 15. She was in labor for over 3 days, seeking medical care. Her family had to row a canoe for 6 hours to reach a hospital before Fanny finally delivered her baby through cesarean section. Fanny developed an obstetric fistula due to this ordeal, but her mother Dorcas was determined to find help for her daughter so that she could live a good life.

  • Sodreine

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    Sodreine is from Iabomora Village, about 56km from Vangaindrano in Madagascar. She gave birth to her first child at the age of 17, but her labor did not progress as planned. As a result, she developed obstetric fistula.

  • Mildred

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    Mildred developed fistula after prolonged, obstructed labor with her second child. She endured two difficult months of life with fistula before receiving treatment through our Action on Fistula program.

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    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.

  • Odeline

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    As is the norm in Chad, Odeline was married at the age of 23 and soon became pregnant. The pregnancy went well and she delivered a healthy baby boy. Three years later she also delivered her second baby girl without problems. In 2006, she became pregnant with her third child. She carried the baby for nine months and expected the labor to be normal as in her first two deliveries, but after having been in labor for more than two days it was obvious something was seriously wrong.

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    Sofia

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    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.

  • Rasoanirina

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    Rasoanirina was 18 when she went into labor with her first child. But her labor did not go as planned: it lasted for three excruciating days before the baby was delivered stillborn, via C-section on July 2, 2015. Her complicated labor left her with more than the pain of losing a child; it also left her with obstetric fistula.

  • Queen

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    “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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  • Umuhoza

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    Umuhoza arrived at the hospital with two massive fistulas and could barely walk. She was so traumatized by her labor that she could not remember any details. Today she is healed, but the road to recovery has been long and difficult.

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    Brenda

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  • Lida

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