Meet Rahima

When Rahima was just 13 she was married to save her family money on living costs. She soon became pregnant and suffered through prolonged, obstructed labor that left her incontinent. She lived with obstetric fistula for 12 years before finally finding help through our partners at HOPE Foundation for Women and Children of Bangladesh.

Rahima's Story

When Rahima was just 13 she was married to save her family money on living costs. Her mother says that “It was our luck” to marry Rahima off so young; even with paying her husband a dowry of 1 Lakh, the family was relieved of the financial burden of supporting her.

She soon became pregnant and went into labor at home without the help of a skilled birth attendant, like over two thirds of Bangladeshi women. In great pain, Rahima knew something was wrong when she felt that the baby wasn’t able to come out. Her labor was obstructed. After a day of labor at home with no relief, her husband and mother finally took her to the hospital where the doctors discovered that her baby had already died.

Yet her trauma was not over. During this obstructed labor, Rahima had developed an obstetric fistula, a hole between her birth canal and bladder that affects an estimated 1 million women around the world. The obstetric fistula causes a woman to be incontinent, leaking urine constantly for the rest of her life or until a repair surgery closes the hole.

Rahima says the urinary incontinence soon followed her return from the hospital. Her husband could not stand the smell of her and divorced her to remarry another woman. She was rejected from her neighbors, and moved in with her mother, the only person who would be around her because of her smell. Today, Rahima is 30 years old and has suffered from the isolation and shame of fistula for over 15 years.

Rahima heard about the free fistula repair services funded by Fistula Foundation at HOPE Hospital for the Women and Children of Bangladesh in Cox’s Bazar. She and her mother traveled from their rural area to the city for the fistula surgery, and she is hopeful for a future free from fistula. She says: “I am very happy. My problem will be solved so I came to HOPE Hospital.”

About Bangladesh

  • Population: 168,957,745
  • Average Births per Woman: 2.45
  • Female Literacy: 58.5%
  • Population Living in Poverty: 43.3% (less than $1.25/day)
Read More

We’re Making a Difference in Bangladesh

News
HOPE in Bangladesh

Since 2010, Fistula Foundation has been proud to partner with HOPE Foundation for Women and Children. Their bustling hospital is located in Cox’s Bazar, a small city near the border with Myanmar. HOPE is a lifeline to impoverished women in the area—and to the recent influx of Rohingya refugees, fleeing intense persecution in Myanmar. Check…

Read Another Woman’s Story

  • Francine

    Madagascar

    She became pregnant with her first child around age 17. Things did not go as planned, and Francine found herself in labor for three days. Finally, she was taken to a hospital where her baby was delivered via C-section. As a result of her prolonged obstructed labor, Francine had developed an obstetric fistula.

  • 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.

  • Justine

    Uganda

    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.

  • Lida

    Afghanistan

    Lida gave birth to her first and only child 12 years ago. Sadly, the baby died shortly after it was born. Not only that, but Lida developed a fistula during the difficult delivery and started leaking urine constantly from that day.

  • 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.

  • Rose

    Madagascar

    Rose developed obstetric fistula at the age of 16, during her first delivery. Life became very difficult for her, in a number of ways. She is not married, and her father is dead. Survival became a challenge.

  • Helen

    Kenya

    Helen went into labor with her second child about four years ago. She gave birth in her home, where she labored for many hours, completely alone without anyone present to assist her. Her baby was stillborn and she began leaking urine immediately.

  • Christine

    Kenya

    Despite the efforts of one dedicated doctor who rode over an hour by motorbike late in the evening to help save the life of Christine and her baby, the baby did not survive. Her prolonged labor also resulted in obstetric fistula. Her husband abandoned her because he could not stand the smell of her incontinence, but her brothers defied cultural tradition and insisted she and her five children live with them. Then, a radio advertisement changed her life.

  • Faith C.

    Kenya

    A terrifying rape resulted in pregnancy and an obstetric fistula for Faith. But today she is healed and looking forward to a future where she can use her experience to help other women in similar positions.

  • Sokhina

    Bangladesh

    Sokhina endured four days of excruciating labor before delivering a stillborn baby. But her nightmare was just beginning: soon after she began to leak urine and learned that she had an obstetric fistula. She suffered with this injury for eight years before learning that help was available.

  • Fina

    Tanzania

    Sixteen years ago, a childbirth injury turned Fina’s life upside down. But after losing everything—her health, her husband, even her own family—she was determined to take her future into her own hands.

  • Kaudha

    Uganda

    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.

  • Hauwa

    Nigeria

    Hauwa was 60 years old when she became aware that the fistula she had suffered with for over 40 years could be repaired for free at our partner hospital, Evangel Vesico-Vaginal Fistula Center (EVFC).

  • Meet Gladys

    Gladys

    Kenya

    Although she lives in a remote village in southwestern Kenya, successful patient outreach efforts helped Gladys get the treatment she needed. Now recovered, she has started a small business to support herself and her two children.

  • Tahinomenjanahary

    Madagascar

    Tahinomenjanahary went in to labor at the age of 17. Her labor was excruciating, but she did not begin the journey to the nearest hospital until she had been in labor for more than a day. In total, she labored for three days. The baby did not survive.

  • 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.

  • Harka Maya

    Nepal

    A mother of two, Harka Maya lives in Sindhuli, Nepal, roughly 80 miles (129 km) from Kathmandu. She developed a fistula last summer, while in labor with her third child. Being from a poor farming family, it was customary for her to deliver at home.

  • Annonciata

    Uganda

    Annonciata is a 56-year old mother and farmer from a small village in Budaka District in Uganda. She had previously given birth to six children without significant complications, but her seventh delivery did not go as planned.