Meet Umuhoza

Umuhoza arrived at the hospital with two massive fistulas and could barely walk. She was so traumatized by her labor that she could not remember any details. Today she is healed, but the road to recovery has been long and difficult.

Umuhoza's Story

By the time Umuhoza arrived at the hospital, she had two massive fistulas and could barely walk.

Umuhoza is 24 years old and from a rural village in northwest Rwanda. By the time she arrived at University Central Hospital of Kigali (CHUK) with her mother in June 2014, doctors realized that she was in pretty bad shape.

Umuhoza’s delivery was so traumatizing that she could not remember any details, but doctors estimated she had been in labor for at least five days based on the extent of the damage. Umuhoza had massive rectal and vaginal fistulas and leaked urine and feces uncontrollably. She suffered from bilateral foot drop – a disabling condition that can be caused by nerve damage during an obstructed delivery – and literally could not walk. She also had a severe pelvic bone infection and a fever of 103.

After treating her infection and fever, doctors were able to operate and successfully closed both of her fistulas. Umuhoza is now dry and no longer leaking urine or feces. She is undergoing physical therapy and can now walk again, though slowly. Umuhoza and her mother have now been at CHUK for over six months, but they say every moment was worth it.

Stories like these are the reason we do the work we do, and none if it would be possible without your generous support.

Longtime Fistula Foundation partner surgeon Dr. Lauri Romanzi is the current head of the fistula care team at CHUK. When asked about Umuhoza, she said:

“It’s been a process. Fistula Foundation has literally saved her life from disaster. Without them, she would have had no food, no clothes, and no chance of getting her fistula repaired.”

About Rwanda

  • Population: 12,337,138
  • Average Births per Woman: 4.62
  • Female Literacy: 61.5%
  • Population Living in Poverty: 63.2% (less than $1.25/day)
Read More

We’re Making a Difference in Rwanda

News
New Project in Rwanda

In October 2014, our Medical & Programs Director, Dr. Steve Arrowsmith, and Communications Associate, Ashley Burke, traveled to East Africa to represent Fistula Foundation at the 2014 ISOFS conference. While in the region, they also had the opportunity to visit several of our partner sites in Uganda, Kenya & Rwanda. Here is a highlight from…

News
Your Donations At Work: Rwanda/Somaliland

This August, Fistula Foundation partner surgeon Dr. Lauri Romanzi led a collaborative fistula training exercise for surgeon trainees from Rwanda and Somaliland. Carried out at Edna Adan University Hospital and National Boroma Fistula Hospital in Somaliland, the training was a great success. 56 surgeries were completed and Dr. Romanzi reported that the six trainees in…

Read Another Woman’s Story

  • 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.

  • Elvanah

    Madagascar

    Elvanah gave birth to her first child at the age of 17. Her labor became obstructed, and ultimately was delivered via C-section. Her prolonged obstructed labor had resulted in an obstetric fistula.

  • Wilmina

    Kenya

    “The last 22 years have been years of great pain, loss and very deep sorrows. I lost my baby, later lost my marriage, lost friends, and lost my only family (my parents). Fistula robbed me of everything that I once valued, and I have been left very empty.”

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • NIrmala-Nepal

    Nirmala

    Nepal

    Nirmala is 25. She lives in Doti, in the far western region of Nepal. For many years, she lived in India, where her husband had found work. While living in India, she gave birth to her first child, a stillborn baby that was delivered after 24 hours of difficult labor that left Nirmala with a double fistula, in her bowels and bladder.

  • Mwajuma

    Kenya

    Mwajuma developed a fistula while in labor with her seventh child. Thankfully, it wasn’t long before she met Mariam, who helped her get free treatment through our Action on Fistula program in Kenya. With her health restored, Mwajuma now has plans to start a new business so she can help support her family.

  • Francine

    Madagascar

    She became pregnant with her first child around age 17. Things did not go as planned, and Francine found herself in labor for three days. Finally, she was taken to a hospital where her baby was delivered via C-section. As a result of her prolonged obstructed labor, Francine had developed an obstetric fistula.

  • Queen

    Kenya

    “When my husband saw the many health issues I had, he despised me, he called me names and always told me in the face that I was more than crippled.” She was left on her own and most of the time starving. She reached at a point that she could not withstand the mistreatment and she went back to her parents. After a few years her parents died. “I walk like a crippled woman, there is nothing that I own on this earth, I don’t have a husband, I don’t have a baby. My life is so empty.” She has said that her deepest desire has been to die a clean woman. But at Gynocare, where she received fistula surgery through the Action on Fistula program, she is happy. Here, she feels loved and valued. She knows she has a family at Gynocare.

  • Harriet

    Uganda

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

  • Salha

    Tanzania

    Salha had a complicated and prolonged labor before she was finally brought to a hospital in the Mtwara region of Tanzania. There she received an emergency C-section section, but it was too late. Tragically, Salha’s baby had already died. A few days later, Salha realized she was leaking urine.

  • Aneni

    Zimbabwe

    Before finding treatment through Fistula Foundation, Aneni* suffered with a terrible fistula for 35 years.

  • Yvonne

    Zambia

    After suffering from obstetric fistula for 17 years, Yvonne boarded a bus that would take her to treatment. She was hopeful that on her return ride, she would be traveling in a dry dress for the first time in nearly two decades.

  • Rasoanirina

    Madagascar

    Extremely shy, and embarrassed by her condition, Rasoanirina stopped going to school.

  • 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.

  • Action on Fistula - Jane

    Jane and Elizabeth

    Kenya

    After suffering five miscarriages, Jane prepared to deliver her first child. But two days of difficult labor left Jane with an obstetric fistula. At home, she became traumatized by isolation and mistreatment from her husband, who had taken another wife. Her sister, Elizabeth, stepped in.

  • 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.