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

  • Jane

    Kenya

    Conducting patient outreach in rural western Kenya, Jane faces a number of challenges—including threats to her life—as she travels in search of women suffering with fistula. But knowing there are many women who are enjoying life once again thanks to her efforts gives great meaning to her work.

  • Bernard

    Kenya

    Bernard Owino is one of six county mobilizers with Disciples of Mercy (DOM), an organization that runs a fistula outreach program in Kisumu. Before joining DOM, he worked with orphans and other vulnerable populations in the region for four years as a social worker.

  • 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.

  • Marivelo

    Madagascar

    In May, 2013, Marivelo went in to labor with her first child. Her labor lasted for four days. The child did not survive, and Marivelo was left incontinent of urine. She had developed an obstetric fistula as a result of the prolonged, unrelieved labor.

  • Vinesy

    Madagascar

    Vinesy had surgery in April 2013 for appendicitis, but something went wrong and she became incontinent as a result. She had developed an iatrogenic fistula as a result of the procedure and had begun to leak urine uncontrollably.

  • Christiana

    Liberia

    Pregnant at 16, Christiana suffered with fistula for several years before her successful treatment at our partner hospital in Monrovia, Liberia. Now, with the new skills she is learning through a patient rehabilitation program, she hopes to help support her family.

  • 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.

  • Kabuli, from Afghanistan (photo credit: CURE International)

    Kabuli

    Afghanistan

    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.

  • Ana-Angola

    Ana

    Angola

    Today, Ana is 18 years old, with an enthusiastic outlook and bubbly smile. That wasn’t always the case. Ana was just shy of 16 years old when she became pregnant. Everything went well, until it was time to deliver. Her labor was excruciating, and lasted for days.

  • Jahanara

    Bangladesh

    Jahanara is just 23 years old. She was in labor for a full day at home before going to a hospital for an emergency C-section. By then, unfortunately, the damage had already been done.

  • Lida

    Afghanistan

    Lida gave birth to her first and only child 12 years ago. Sadly, the baby died shortly after it was born. Not only that, but Lida developed a fistula during the difficult delivery and started leaking urine constantly from that day.

  • Fina

    Tanzania

    Sixteen years ago, a childbirth injury turned Fina’s life upside down. But after losing everything—her health, her husband, even her own family—she was determined to take her future into her own hands.

  • Zatindravelo

    Madagascar

    When it came time to deliver her baby, Zatindravelo dutifully made her way to a medical facility to deliver, but her labor took a turn for the worse when there were no doctors or nurses present to assist her when she needed them most. She labored for 17 hours with her first child. The child did not survive. As a result of her prolonged, unrelieved labor, she had developed obstetric fistula.

  • Esther

    Kenya

    Esther gave birth to her second child, Manuel, less than one year ago. She was encouraged to stay at home to deliver the baby, where she labored for three days with the help of a traditional birth attendant. Fortunately, she gave birth to a lively baby boy. However, after four days she noticed she was leaking urine and was unable to control it.

  • Maho

    Madagascar

    At 20 years old, Maho is mother to two healthy children. In June 2016, when giving birth to her third child, her labor went quite differently. She endured an excruciating labor that lasted three days and resulted in a C-section. Her child did not survive, and Maho had begun to leak urine.

  • Hamida-Bangladesh

    Hamida

    Bangladesh

    Hamida is a young woman of twenty five from Teknaf in the Cox's Bazar District, a town remotely located at the southernmost point of mainland Bangladesh, at the Myanmar border. When Hamida was only thirteen years old, she was married. She became pregnant and gave birth at home with no medical help, preferring home as a safe place for delivery as more than 95 percent of women do in her region, for fear of hospital costs.

  • Confidence from Liberia (WAHA)

    Confidence

    Liberia

    Pregnant with her second child, Confidence went to a local hospital to deliver her baby. But when her labor became obstructed, hospital staff weren’t able to perform the necessary Cesarean section and transferred her to a larger facility. Sadly, it was too late.

  • Alitash

    Ethiopia

    Alitash is 56 years old and lives in a small village about 50 kilometers east of Aira, a large town in western Ethiopia. She has given birth three times – her first two children died as teenagers, and the third was stillborn.