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Meet Pastor Raphael

The fact that he is blind has never slowed him down, and at 45 years, Pastor Raphael is feeling young and energetic. As a child, Pastor Raphael was unable to finish school as he had tend to the family’s cattle, but he always felt a calling to become a pastor and to serve his community.

Pastor Raphael's Story

He has now been a pastor for nearly three decades. He has dedicated his life to providing spiritual guidance in his community as well as to pass along important knowledge. The West Pokot region, he says, has little education and faces many challenges due to lack of awareness on how to prevent and treat illnesses.

Girls and women in particular face many challenges. Pastor Raphael explains that female genital cutting is nearly universal in this community, with girls as young as nine or ten undergoing the ritual. Girls often get married off at a very tender age and start child bearing when they are still very young. Most women choose to deliver at home because they are more comfortable in that setting and that is what everyone in their family has always done, and the nearest hospital is very far away – nearly four hours.

Pastor Raphael is pleased with the training he received from WADADIA in July 2014, and learned many things that he did not know and was able to come back to share with the community. He has been working closely with chiefs and other religious leaders to spread the message about fistula, and they are glad to assist in helping women get treatment. “The women really suffer when they have this condition,” explains Pastor Raphael. Many of their husbands chase them away when they learn they are leaking and smelling. Other women become very isolated. Women with fistula also find it hard to make a living; many women collect and sell the water from the aloe vera plant to earn a small income, but when they have fistula they are unable to do this work and therefore can’t earn money.

Pastor Raphael acknowledges that it can be challenging to convince women to come to the hospital for surgery, as they have many doubts and anxieties about leaving. “How will my children be cared for? Who will care for my animals? How will I manage to get transport? And will I be OK when I return?” These are all familiar questions to Pastor Raphael, who spends a lot of time counseling women and reassuring them before they feel comfortable enough to go to the hospital for treatment.

Pastor Raphael praises the work of WADADIA and the donors that have contributed to its work. He says that this work should continue, as there are still so many women who need help. “Keep on coming, keep up the good works because the people of Pokot need help. And God bless you so much.”

About Kenya

  • Population: 45,010,056
  • Average Births per Woman: 3.54
  • Female Literacy: 84.2%
  • Population Living in Poverty: 43.4% (less than $1.25/day)
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  • Jahanara

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    Jahanara is just 23 years old. She was in labor for a full day at home before going to a hospital for an emergency C-section. By then, unfortunately, the damage had already been done.

  • Naomi

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    Naomi arrived at Tanga Health Center in northeastern Tanzania as a glowing 24 year old expectant mother and businesswoman with a supportive family and a bright future. She returned home with a healthy baby, but also a devastating condition that threatened to diminish that future - obstetric fistula.

  • Harka Maya

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  • Nathi-Uganda

    Nathi

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    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.

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    Halima

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  • 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.

  • Vitasoa

    Madagascar

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

  • Reeta

    Nepal

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