By Bill Mann, Fistula Foundation Board Chair I’m going to introduce you to Vavizely in a second. I warn you, her story is fairly difficult to imagine and a little hard to take. I met Vavizely at Freedom from Fistula’s surgical center in Toamasina, Madagascar. Toamasina is a compact, neat, prosperous coastal town, the commercial…
Two hours after surgery, Ravony was already looking forward to returning home. She couldn’t wait to be able to walk wherever she wanted and to visit with her friends.
For the last eight years, she has suffered with obstetric fistula, which caused her to leak urine uncontrollably. Her fistula was the result of a five day labor that ended in the death of her child.
Only her husband and her mother knew about her fistula, and Ravony worked hard to hide her condition. She prayed to God often, asking to be healed. She concealed the leaking urine by changing her underwear five times a day, depending on how much water she drank. She stopped going out with her friends. She stayed home, lying down most of the time. The leaking was so much worse when she stood up. She shared, “I felt I was not human.”
Time progressed, and three years after developing fistula, she and her husband welcomed a second child into their lives when she delivered a healthy baby, without complication. But her leaking continued.
One day, a year after her second child was borh, she heard an advertisement on the radio, promoting the availability of free obstetric fistula surgery at a hospital in Morondava run by SALFA, a Fistula Foundation partner. But the hospital was very far away. It would require 50km journey on foot or on a cart pulled by zebu (cow), followed by a six hour drive by 4×4 to reach help.
But she found a way to make the trip, and in October 2016, she received free surgery from SALFA in Morondava. On this day, two hours post-surgery, she is happy. “Before, I felt like I was in a prison in my own home. But, I have freedom now.”
- 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)