Meet Ronasi

After a difficult labor with her fifth child, Ronasi developed obstetric fistula. But Fistula Foundation's previous work to educate the community helped her receive treatment quickly.

Ronasi's Story

Sitting beside her husband outside their home in rural Mafinga District, Ronasi Nambobe recounts her story of developing and overcoming fistula. 

In 2016, Ronasi, 27, was in the ninth month of her fifth pregnancy when she went into labor. She headed to a rural health center where she waited for a week. She was in labor for a day and a half when the nurse said she wasn’t delivering and said she should go to Isoka General Hospital. An ambulance was called and she headed there. Once at the hospital, the doctor examined her and said she needed a cesarean section, which she had. The baby was stillborn. Throughout the surgery, she was unconscious – she woke up at 4 a.m. and realized she was in the hospital. 

“I didn’t know what was happening because I was very sick,” she said. 

She stayed in the hospital for five days before she was discharged and headed back to her village. Her stitches and catheter were removed at the rural health center, but afterward, she went to sleep and woke up and noticed she was wet. She tried to sit and also became wet. 

“Months started passing and it became a daily routine,” she said. 

Fistula Foundation had been active in educating the community, and Ronasi’s neighbor gave her the information about the foundation’s work. She spoke with a Community Health Volunteer who then informed the Mafinga program officer about her condition. 

In May, it was confirmed she had fistula and arrangements were made to send her to Mbala General Hospital for surgery. 

“I was excited when the car came to pick me up,” she said. “But when I was going to the hospital, I was doubting whether I’d be OK or not.”

At Mbala, she was the first of the patients to be treated. After the operation, she was given water and a bottle of juice to drink as well as a patient pack, which includes items like soap, a toothbrush, pads, panties and more. 

“The next day, people started visiting,” she said. “It stayed like that for some time, asking if I slept, if the bed was wet.”

When her catheter was removed, she became very excited, she said. 

She returned to her village and her husband, who stayed with her throughout the process and shared a bed with her, which encouraged her. 

“I never thought I’d get OK,” she said, later discussing the devastating social effects that come with it “You can’t go to market, church or places unless you’re cured.”

As for her future, she plans to continue farming and selling produce at the weekly market. 

Ronasi’s husband, 34-year-old Steward Muwowo, said he never used to feel good watching his wife go through such trouble. He often blamed himself, thinking he was the cause of her ailment. 

He said they are following the rules of abstaining from sex for three moths post-surgery. 

“I don’t want to see her go through what she went through,” he said.

This story was written by Kristi Eaton in 2018 for Fistula Foundation’s Writer in Residence program. 

About Zambia

  • Population: 15,510,711
  • Average Births per Woman: 5.67
  • Female Literacy: 56%
  • Population Living in Poverty: 60.5% (less than $1.25/day)
Read More

We’re Making a Difference in Zambia

Mentoring for better service

As a trained midwife, Barnabus Mulenga acts as a mentor and counselor to pregnant women, helping them with family planning and deliveries.  What sets Barnabus apart from other midwifes, however, is that he’s also a fistula nurse, acting as a mentor to other nurses about the best ways to treat fistula patients.  “I love this…

Field Notes – Zambia: A Journey I’ll Never Forget

I can’t believe my three weeks in Zambia have come and gone. I’m writing this post from Chicago, waiting to return to my hometown of Tulsa and replaying everything in my mind. It’s bringing up a cadre of emotions. First, anger. It’s 2018 and this ailment shouldn’t be affecting anyone, let along the numbers it…

Read Another Woman’s Story

  • 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.

  • Vitasoa


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

  • Soazara


    Soazara's husband abandoned her, because he could not stand her smell. Life became almost unbearable for her.

  • Molia


    In 1996, Molia was pregnant with twins during her seventh pregnancy. Her mother was a traditional birth attendant, so the first twin was delivered at home. But the second one was delivered at a rural health center and her delivery became obstructed. The baby did not survive. After her delivery, she sat on a bike and noticed she was wet. 

  • Florinda


    Living in a small village in central Angola, Florinda was married in her teens and became pregnant at 16. Without access to emergency obstetric care, her difficult delivery caused her to develop a fistula. But today, she is smiling again.

  • Goni-Ethiopia



    Goni is fifteen years old and lives in a small village in the hills of northeastern Ethiopia. She married and became pregnant. During labor she developed a fistula; her husband abandoned her after the injury became apparent.

  • Awetu


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

  • Lucie


    With a tube down her nose to her stomach, Lucie was unable to talk. Her sister, Elysa, relayed this story on her behalf.

  • Elizabeth


    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.

  • Fistula Foundation - Kamala



    Kamala is a 47 year old mother of four and from a very remote area of western Nepal known as Dailekh. She lived with fistula for eight years, but thankfully is one of few patients who had the support of her husband the entire time.

  • Naresia Kenya



    Naresia is a Masai girl from a rural village in Kenya. Only five months ago, at the age of 14, Naresia gave birth to a baby. After a prolonged and difficult labor, she awoke to find her bed soaked with urine. The doctors informed her that the delivery process had left her with an obstetric fistula and she was now incontinent.

  • Naomi


    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.

  • 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.

  • Siana



    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.

  • 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.

  • Fanny


    Fanny became pregnant by her boyfriend at 15. She was in labor for over 3 days, seeking medical care. Her family had to row a canoe for 6 hours to reach a hospital before Fanny finally delivered her baby through cesarean section. Fanny developed an obstetric fistula due to this ordeal, but her mother Dorcas was determined to find help for her daughter so that she could live a good life.

  • Francine


    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.

  • Mary


    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.