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

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    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.

  • Florinda

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    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.

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  • Siana

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  • Jane

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    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.

  • Mary

    Kenya

    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.

  • Rasoanandrasana

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    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.

  • Justine

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  • Grace

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    Khadijah lived with fistula for 18 years, and it isolated her from everything and everyone around her. Originally from Chad's northern region of Bar Elgazel, she was married when she was only 14 years old. Her first pregnancy came three years afterwards and, not knowing the importance of seeking health care or treatment, she never received any prenatal care.

  • Vinesy

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