Sofia - WAHA

Meet Sofia

At 16, Sofia lost her baby boy in childbirth and developed a fistula, prompting her husband to leave her. Unaware what her condition was called or that treatment was possible, she became almost completely isolated over the next three years, giving up hope of ever being healed. A radio ad changed her life.

Sofia's Story

Sofia* is only 19 years old, but has already experienced so much suffering. Four years ago, Sofia got pregnant. It was her first pregnancy, quickly after she had gotten married, and since the nearest health center was far away, she did not have any antenatal care. When labor started, she stayed at home, planning to give birth there.

But after two days of labor and no sign of delivering her baby, her husband finally agreed to bring her to the local health center. Lacking transportation, Sofia had to walk; when she couldn’t, her family carried her. She stayed at the health center for one day, without giving birth, before staff decided to transfer her to the hospital. At the hospital, Sofia delivered a stillborn baby boy.

While crying for her lost child, she realized that she was leaking urine. The hospital staff discharged her, saying there was nothing more they could do.

Sofia spent three years living with obstetric fistula, not knowing the name of her condition or that treatment was possible. Her husband divorced her and she became more and more excluded from the community. Over time, she became completely isolated, as people were afraid to go near her. She returned to her parents, who were the only human contact she had. But they, along with Sofia, had given up hope that she would ever be healed.

On the radio, her parents heard about obstetric fistula and that free treatment was available at Family Medical Hospital in Monrovia. Full of hope, they brought Sofia into town and were relieved when the doctors confirmed her diagnosis and scheduled the operation.

Today, Sofia is healed. At 19 years old, she is young enough to start a new life. “I am so thankful for the care I received, the transport to hospital, the food and the support,” she says. “God bless the doctors and nurses of the Family Medical Hospital and those who covered the costs for my operation.”

*Name changed

About Liberia

  • Population: 4,299,944
  • Average Births per Woman: 4.6
  • Female Literacy: 32.8%
  • Population Living in Poverty: 63.8% (less than $1.25/day)
Read More

We’re Making a Difference in Liberia

Fistula Foundation News

News
Liberia: Restoring Fistula Treatment After Ebola

Embed from Getty Images During the 2014 Ebola outbreak, Liberia was one of the hardest-hit countries in West Africa, with the highest number of Ebola deaths. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Liberia reported 300 to 400 new Ebola cases every week in August and September 2014, a devastating pace for the country’s already…

News
Your Donations at Work: Liberia

Liberia: During the 2014 Ebola outbreak, Liberia was one of the hardest-hit countries in West Africa, with the highest number of Ebola deaths. According to the World Health Organization, Liberia reported 300 to 400 new cases every week in August and September 2014, a devastating pace for the country’s already weak health system. Working in…

Read Another Woman’s Story

  • Christine A.

    Kenya

    Christine loved her husband and bore him six children. But after he died, Christine's life changed when she was forced to marry her eldest brother-in-law, who cared very little for her or her children. She became pregnant with her seventh child, enduring a prolonged labor that left her with obstetric fistula. Her new husband shunned her and kicked her out of her home. But then she found hope.

  • Naresia Kenya

    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.

  • 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.

  • Landy

    Madagascar

    Landy became pregnant at 14 years old. When it came time to deliver, she labored at home as most women do in her village. But after a day of excruciating pain, her labor did not progress and her family took her to the village hospital. The baby did not survive.

  • Janet

    Kenya

    Janet can't explain how she ended up at the political rally that day, but it changed her life forever.

  • Vitasoa

    Madagascar

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

  • Saran

    Guinea

    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.

  • Blandine

    Madagascar

    Blandine was so happy to be free of her fistula, that "she honestly couldn't stop laughing, which was so heartwarming!"

  • Annonciata

    Uganda

    Annonciata is a 56-year old mother and farmer from a small village in Budaka District in Uganda. She had previously given birth to six children without significant complications, but her seventh delivery did not go as planned.

  • Harriet

    Uganda

    Harriet leaked stool for two years before understanding that she was living with a treatable injury. 

  • Aidah

    Nigeria

    72 year old Aidah lived with obstetric fistula for an astounding 41 years before accessing treatment at Evangel Vesico-Vaginal Fistula Center in Jos. Her family stuck by her side the entire time, and recounted to hospital staff how fistula severely limited her (and their) opportunities and success in life.

  • Everlyn

    Kenya

    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.

  • Fistula Foundation - Maria

    Maria

    Zimbabwe

    Maria is 42 years old. She is HIV-positive and currently on antiretroviral therapy. Maria doesn’t have a permanent place to live – she cannot work because of her incontinence, and has no real income to live on. She survives through the ongoing support of her relatives and friends.

  • Alphonsia

    Tanzania

    Alphonsia’s heart-wrenching story began 27 years ago after her labor failed to progress properly.

  • Abiar

    Kenya

    In her 23 years, Abiar has seen and experienced more sadness than most do in a lifetime. Losing her entire family to civil war in South Sudan in 2011, she married as a way to protect her own life. But soon the worst happened: with no access to health care, food or shelter, she became pregnant.

  • Rahima

    Bangladesh

    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.

  • Jacklyn

    Kenya

    Jacklyn is just 29 years old, but has faced enough heartbreak to last a lifetime. Born and raised in Kisii County in western Kenya, Jacklyn was raised by her older sister because their parents abandoned them when she was a small child. She was never able to go to school because she had to do odd jobs along with her older sister in order to have enough food to eat at the end of the day.

  • Mary

    Kenya

    Mary's first two pregnancies progressed normally, giving her two healthy children. But she never could have imagined what would happen when it came time to deliver her third child.