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…
Mulamba*, 23, is from a remote village in the Mongala province of northwestern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Four years ago, she became pregnant for the first time.
Her pregnancy progressed well, but labor was difficult. Attempting to give birth at home with the help of midwives, Mulamba was in labor for nearly a week. Her family finally brought her to a health center for emergency surgery, but it was too late. Her baby boy had already died.
The next day, while recovering from anesthesia, she noticed that her bed was wet. In the months that followed, her husband abandoned her, unable to cope with her “disease of urine.” He remarried and is now a father of three. “Nevertheless,” she says, “despite my health situation, I got another husband who loves me more than the first one and he accepted to live with me despite my health condition.”
Her current husband came with her to the hospital in Lisala, where Mulamba received free fistula treatment during a visit from the HEAL Africa surgical team last August. After four years of suffering, she says, “I am now sleeping in a dry bed. I am like dreaming.”
During recovery, Mulamba was already looking forward to returning to her job as a schoolteacher. “I greatly bless the Lord who brought [HEAL Africa] here at Lisala to help us with medical care for free of charge. This is something that never existed in our province of Mongala since when the world exists,” she says. “Our families are very excited to see us healed and they are hopeful to see our bright future.”
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)