Meet Serafina

Serafina is 18 years old and from the Mukubal tribe in southwestern Angola. Married off at a young age and one of several wives, Serafina became pregnant when she was 14. She is very small-boned and was suffering from malnutrition when she came to the hospital, as food is often scarce in that part of the country. As a result of that and other factors, her delivery did not go well.

Serafina's Story

After at least five days of labor, Serafina’s family realized she needed help and took her to a hospital in the coastal town of Namibe. Serafina herself said she does not remember anything about the last several days of the delivery. At the hospital, doctors cut her abdomen open and removed the stillborn baby nearly a week after her labor had begun. Afterwards, Serafina began leaking urine and feces.

When she was 18, someone told Serafina and her family about a mission hospital called Evangelical Medical Center of Lubango (CEML). They brought Serafina to the hospital, and doctors there discovered that she in fact had several fistulas and her uterus had been completely removed during the C-section. Serafina was very nervous – she was completely out of her element in the hospital and no one spoke her language. She was comforted by the kindness of hospital staff and her family, however, and fellow fistula patients helped her to understand she was not alone.

Doctors at CEML performed a colostomy on Serafina, which she soon became very adept at caring for. Her colostomy was later reversed, and doctors were able to repair all of her fistulas! Serafina is now dry, and hospital staff report that she nearly jumped out of bed with joy when she was finally discharged.

About Angola

  • Population: 19,088,106
  • Average Births per Woman: 5.43
  • Female Literacy: 58.6%
  • Population Living in Poverty: 43.4% (less than $1.25/day)
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Read Another Woman’s Story

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    At the age of 14, Margaret was raped while fetching water at the local stream. She became pregnant as a result, and endured a difficult labor, which resulted in a stillborn baby and an obstetric fistula. An orphan, Margaret had nowhere to go, and nobody to help her through this terrible tragedy – except her sister, Rose.
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