Fistula Foundation featured prominently in 10th Anniversary Edition of The Life You Can Save! Learn More

Meet Wilmina

“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.”

Wilmina's Story

“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,” Wilmina shared.

Wilmina was married at the age of 18. Like other girls in her village in this position, Wilmina was excited and full of expectations for her new married life. Everything went blissfully until complications arose during her first childbirth. She ended up delivering a stillborn child through a Caesarean section. It was a devastating time for her.

“As I went through the trauma of losing my baby, I kept reassuring myself that I would soon recover and move on. But little did I know that there was another tragedy waiting to strike. On the 5th day following my delivery, I woke up and found all my bedding wet. When I stood up, urine poured on the floor. After consultation from the nurse’s desk, it was confirmed that I had developed an obstetric fistula. My world tore apart, my dreams shattered and my hope faded away when I was told that my condition was not treatable,” said Wilmina.

There is a saying in Wilmina’s community, that “When Mr. Problems knocks on your door, he comes in in with his entire clan.”

When Wilmina was discharged from hospital, her husband accompanied her home. He had acted very supportive at the hospital, but she would soon realize that it was an act. As soon as they got home, Wilmina found all of her belongings already packed. That same day, her husband escorted her back to her parents’ home, claiming that Wilmina was a bad omen to his family.

“Was it really my fault? Did I make a mistake by fulfilling my divine mandate of child bearing? Is it wrong to be born a woman?” These were the questions that Wilmina kept asking herself.

Then, tragedy struck again. One day, Wilmina returned to her parents’ house after fetching water, to discover that her parents had been murdered in cold blood.

“It was not easy for me to handle all of that with my obstetric fistula and all the problems surrounding my life, and yet being the only child of my parents. After my parents’ burial, I was asked to leave because my uncle was now the rightful owner of all that belonged to my father since I was not a male child.

“A good Samaritan took me in and built me a small hut on the furthest end of his farm, which I deeply appreciate,” Wilmina shared. “For 22 years I have lived there. I have been sent into loneliness, I have lost all, misfortunes have pursued me, and tears have been like my daily bread. Every day I ask myself why am I still alive?”

Wilmina has undergone three corrective surgeries, all of which have been unsuccessful. When she spoke with Fistula Foundation, she was awaiting her fourth surgery at our partner facility, Gynocare Women’s & Fistula Hospital, where her surgery will be supported through our Action on Fistula program.

She is trying to remain hopeful, but after so much sadness, it is difficult. Instead she asks, “Will I ever know a good life?”

About Kenya

  • Population: 45,010,056
  • Average Births per Woman: 3.54
  • Female Literacy: 84.2%
  • Population Living in Poverty: 43.4% (less than $1.25/day)
Read More

We’re Making a Difference in Kenya

Read Another Woman’s Story

  • Alradya-Sudan

    Alradya

    Sudan

    Alradya is 17 years old and lives in northern Sudan. When she was 15, she was married to her cousin, a farmer. She became pregnant and when she went into labor, had only her mother at her side. She endured excruciating labor for two days, but there was still no sign of the baby, which she could no longer feel moving. A traditional birth attendant was summoned to examine Alradya, who ordered that she be sent to the nearest hospital.

  • 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.

  • Doris

    Zambia

    After two days of labor at a clinic hear her village, Doris was transferred to a hospital where the staff refused to give her the cesarean section she needed because "she was going to die anyway." Her baby did not survive and Doris developed an obstetric fistula. Her husband left, and soon, so did her hope.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Sofia - WAHA

    Sofia

    Liberia

    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.

  • Evelyn

    Kenya

    “It was so painful to leave the hospital with the few clothes I had bought for my baby. It was painful to walk out of the gates empty handed [without a baby] and to worsen the matter, with the leaking of urine."

  • Florinda

    Angola

    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.

  • Blandine

    Madagascar

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

  • Cellina

    Kenya

    Cellina Nyasugutha is a community health volunteer with Daraja Mbili, an outreach program based in Kisii.

  • 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.

  • Chepotyeltyel

    Kenya

    Chepotyeltyel is a Pokot woman from a remote, rural area in northwestern Kenya. After suffering with fistula for nearly 50 years, she was finally able to receive free fistula treatment in July 2016.

  • Justine

    Uganda

    Justine is 37 years old and lives in Bumasiki , a small village in Bugiri District in Uganda. When her labor pains began, she prepared to go to the hospital but didn’t have enough money to get there. She arrived 20 hours later after gathering sufficient funds from friends and neighbors; but by then, she had developed an obstetric fistula.

  • Harka Maya

    Nepal

    A mother of two, Harka Maya lives in Sindhuli, Nepal, roughly 80 miles (129 km) from Kathmandu. She developed a fistula last summer, while in labor with her third child. Being from a poor farming family, it was customary for her to deliver at home.

  • Josephine-Congo

    Josephine

    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.

  • Serafina

    Angola

    Serafina is 18 years old and from the Mukubal tribe in southwestern Angola. Married off at a young age and one of several wives, Serafina became pregnant when she was 14. She is very small-boned and was suffering from malnutrition when she came to the hospital, as food is often scarce in that part of the country. As a result of that and other factors, her delivery did not go well.

  • Selina

    Kenya

    Selina, a traditional birth attendant from remote West Pokot, Kenya, helped eight women from her village get life-changing fistula surgery. And she’s not done yet.

  • Salome

    Kenya

    Salome's labor began at night. She sought help from her mother-in-law, who immediately called Salome's husband - by cultural norms, the only one who could give permission for Salome to seek help at a hospital. But he had turned his phone off for the night and was unreachable. Her mother-in-law tried all she could throughout the night to help Salome deliver her child. By the time Salome's husband returned the call the next morning to advise that she be taken immediately to the hospital, it was too late. The baby did not survive, and Salome had developed an obstetric fistula.