Meet Reeta

Reeta arrived at International Nepal Foundation's fistula clinic with her younger son, Tej. They live in Kanchenpur, a 9 hour journey by bus from Surkhet. Reeta developed an obstetric fistula after her youngest son’s birth 33 years ago. She had delivered two sons previously at home without difficulty, but the third labor was more complicated.

Reeta's Story

After four days, she was still unable to push the baby out. A neighbor finally came and helped to safely deliver the baby, who miraculously survived. However, Reeta was soon unable to control her urine – she was wet day and night.

Reeta and her family were soon struck with another tragedy, when her husband died suddenly after a fatal fall from a tree. Reeta was forced to bring up her sons alone. Friends would sometimes visit, but they sat far from her because of the smell of urine that always accompanied her.

Some years ago, Reeta’s oldest son married. It is traditional for the son and wife to stay in the parent’s home and care for the parents, but Reeta’s new daughter-in-law did not want to live in the same house because of the smell, so the young couple moved out. Tej loves his mother dearly, and vowed not to marry in case his wife would be equally as unkind to his mother.

Two years ago, Tej and his mother went to India in search of treatment. One hospital offered surgery but required 100,000 Indian rupees in advance, which was far beyond their means. Reeta and her son sadly returned home. Thankfully, Reeta soon learned about a fistula repair clinic in Surkhet from a health worker at the local health post. She learned that treatment was free and travel costs would also be paid. So in February 2015, Reeta and Taj went to Surkhet. Reeta settled into the ward with about 40 other patients, and was thankful to know she was not alone.

A few days later, Reeta’s surgery was performed. After two weeks of recovery and anxious waiting, Reeta learned that her surgery was successful. She slept in a dry bed for the first time in 33 years, and she and Tej couldn’t be happier!

About Nepal

  • Population: 29,033,914
  • Average Births per Woman: 2.18
  • Female Literacy: 53.1%
  • Population Living in Poverty: 25.2% (less than $1.25/day)
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Read Another Woman’s Story

  • Jenipher

    Zambia

    While giving birth to her fifth child in 1998, Jenipher endured a prolonged labor, and her baby was stillborn. Afterwards, Jenipher began leaking uncontrollably- she had developed an obstetric fistula. After 18 years of living with fistula, she had all but given up hope of getting treatment, until she heard a comforting voice on the radio.

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    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.

  • Elizabeth

    Madagascar

    Elizabeth is mother to ten children. For nearly a year, she suffered in shame, uncontrollably leaking urine. A doctor misdiagnosed her condition as a urinary tract infection. Without a way to stop the incontinence, Elizabeth went to great lengths to hide her injury.

  • Salha

    Tanzania

    Salha had a complicated and prolonged labor before she was finally brought to a hospital in the Mtwara region of Tanzania. There she received an emergency C-section section, but it was too late. Tragically, Salha’s baby had already died. A few days later, Salha realized she was leaking urine.

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    Nazneen

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    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.

  • Rahima

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  • 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.

  • Prisca

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    Prisca was diagnosed with multiple fistulas, and feared she would have to live with the condition forever. Then, a radio program changed her life.

  • Nanyoor

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  • Selina

    Kenya

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  • Mary

    Kenya

    Mary, from rural West Pokot, Kenya, received free fistula repair surgery in 2015 after being referred for treatment by a community health worker. With a bright future ahead, she wishes to become a fistula ambassador herself.

  • Wilmina

    Kenya

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    Kenya

    In obstructed labor with her sixth child, Celestine was rushed to her local health facility, only to be told she couldn’t have emergency surgery until her family made a down payment. Anxious and afraid, she waited for her husband to return with the money needed.

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    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.

  • Justine

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    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.

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    Kenya

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