Senowara Begum, 30 (3)

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


Hope Hospital – A Lighthouse for Fistula Patients in Remote Bangladesh

Fistula Foundation is proud to support the work of our partners at the Hope Foundation for Women & Children of Bangladesh. By Dr. Tareq Salahuddin Cox’s Bazar Women and Children’s Hospital — a project of Hope Foundation serves the people living in remotest area of Bangladesh. In some specialised services like fistula operation, they provide…


The Face of HOPE

Meet Dr. Iftikher Mahmood, founder of the HOPE Foundation for Women & Children of Bangladesh. We have proudly funded his work since 2010; his hospital is the only facility in southern Bangladesh providing fistula treatment. Watch our interview with him to learn more about our partnership and his life-changing work.

Read Another Woman’s Story

  • 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.
  • Everlyn



    Everlyn developed fistula during her second pregnancy. Shunned and stigmatized by her own family, her husband stood by her side until she received successful treatment through the Action on Fistula program.
  • Umuhoza, a recovering fistula patient at CHUK



    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.
  • 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.
  • Awetu



    After Awetu developed a fistula following a difficult labor and delivery, her husband left her and married another. She was heartbroken.
  • Fistula Foundation - Nazneen



    Nazneen is a 47 year old mother of six who resides in the Balochistan region of Pakistan. She had been living with fistula for 14 years after experiencing a prolonged labor while giving birth to her sixth child.
  • Esther and baby-web version



    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.
  • 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.
  • SARAN_Patient Image-min



    After developing a fistula with the birth of her fourth child, Saran received free fistula surgery at our partner site Jean Paul II Hospital in Conakry, Guinea.
  • Kabuli, from Afghanistan (photo credit: CURE International)



    Kabuli, from Afghanistan, is the third of four wives. When she developed a fistula after enduring obstructed labor without any emergency medical care, her husband forced her into isolation within his home. Living in shame, Kabuli thought she would be miserable for the rest of her life.
  • Lida - CURE



    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.
  • 04_Kaudha_post-surgery



    Kaudha is from eastern Uganda. 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.
  • Josephine-Congo


    Democratic Republic of the Congo

    Josephine is from the northwestern corner of the Democratic Republic of Congo. 34 years old, she is the mother of two healthy boys, ages 11 and 9, the only surviving children from her four pregnancies.



    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.
  • Beatrice-Kenya



    Beatrice is 17 she lives in Western Kenya. Many women with fistula suffer for years or decades before they are able to access surgical treatment. Fortunately for Beatrice, who was 16 when she developed fistula, it was less than a month before she received treatment at the Nyanza Provincial General Hospital in Kisumu, Kenya. Beatrice developed fistula after laboring at home for two days in the presence of a traditional birth attendant.
  • Hamida-Bangladesh



    Hamida is a young woman of twenty five from Teknaf in the Cox's Bazar District, a town remotely located at the southernmost point of mainland Bangladesh, at the Myanmar border. When Hamida was only thirteen years old, she was married. She became pregnant and gave birth at home with no medical help, preferring home as a safe place for delivery as more than 95 percent of women do in her region, for fear of hospital costs.
  • Flavia



    Flavia is a shy 17 year old girl who was married when she was just 15. Soon after, she became pregnant. Her labor began at home, but the family was unprepared when the labor became obstructed. Not knowing what to do, they finally took her to a hospital.
  • Betty



    Betty developed fistula during her first pregnancy, after laboring at home for seven days. Her baby did not survive. Today, she is healthy once again thanks to free surgery provided through the Action on Fistula program.

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