Meet Towanda

Towanda is 20 years old and from a rural area just outside of Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital city. Four years ago at the age of 16, she became pregnant. When the time came to deliver, there were a lot of complications.

Towanda's Story

Towanda ended up losing her baby. As if that was not enough, she also began leaking urine and feces through her vagina. Towanda assumed this was a normal occurrence after giving birth and it would soon go away – but it didn’t.

“I tried to seek medical attention and was told that it was obstetric fistula and because of the high costs of corrective surgery, which my family couldn’t afford, I never got any help,” Towanda explained. Her symptoms were so severe, painful and humiliating that she had to stop going to school. It wasn’t just school which she avoided, but all public places in general, for fear of being ridiculed.

Towanda lived with fistula for nearly four years before being put in touch with our partner organization in Zimbabwe, WAHA International. They referred her to Harare for treatment where she received a free (and successful!) repair surgery. Following her surgery, Towanda remarked with a smile, “I am so relieved and grateful that my life is now back to normal as I had lost hope for re-living my life.”

About Zimbabwe

  • Population: 14,149,648
  • Average Births per Woman: 3.56
  • Female Literacy: 80.1%
  • Population Living in Poverty: % (less than $1.25/day)
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Read Another Woman’s Story

  • Rasoanirina

    Madagascar

    Rasoanirina was 18 when she went into labor with her first child. But her labor did not go as planned: it lasted for three excruciating days before the baby was delivered stillborn, via C-section on July 2, 2015. Her complicated labor left her with more than the pain of losing a child; it also left her with obstetric fistula.

  • 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.

  • Annet Jane

    Annet Jane

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    Pregnant at 14, Annet Jane suffered with a fistula for 23 years before receiving treatment. Now, she has hope for the future.

  • Josephine-Congo

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    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.

  • Fistula Foundation - Lia

    Lia

    Angola

    Lia arrived at CEML with great misgivings - she had sought help at many places for her fistula but was given no hope. A friend told her that she might find help at CEML and urged her to go, which she eventually did. She told staff there that she sat on some rocks nearby, cried and repeated “God help me” over and over before coming through the doors.

  • Siana

    Siana

    Burundi

    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.

  • Rasoandrana Marie Lucie

    Madagascar

    Rasoandrana Marie Lucie became pregnant at the age of 15. Her labor began in April, 2016, and lasted for an excruciating three days. Eventually, the baby was delivered via C-section at a government hospital. The child did not survive. Not long after, Rasoandrana began leaking urine: the difficult labor had left her with obstetric fistula.

  • Fistula Foundation - Kamala

    Kamala

    Nepal

    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.

  • 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.

  • Odeline

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  • Hadija

    Guinea

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  • Selina

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  • Naomi

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  • Saran

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