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Esperance, 24


"I waited at home for death... now everything has changed"

I have been leaking urine since I delivered my first and only child last year. I was married a year ago, and three months later I became pregnant. When the baby was ready, I began to feel contractions. I went immediately to the health center. I labored there for 2 days. Eventually I was transferred to a larger hospital, but by that point I felt my baby die. At the hospital the doctors did a C-section to remove the dead baby. Immediately after I noticed I was leaking urine. I went to my husband’s home, and the next day we went to a health center together to consult the doctors. My husband saw that there was nothing they could do to heal me, and after we returned home he left. My mother-in-law left me too.

I stayed all by myself, alone, with no one to help me. I had no husband, no child, no mother … no one. At first I thought it would kill me within three months. I waited at home alone for death, crying all of the time. When some people in my community took pity on me, they would give me some small amount of money. However, nobody was very kind to me. I was so ashamed by the way I smelled from leaking urine that I didn’t approach others. Now I live with my father and step-mother. But since I developed my fistula, my step-mother and I do not get along well. She does not give me as much food as she used to, and she says that I am handicapped.

The district hospital called me last month, to tell me about IOWD. I didn’t have any money to come here by bus, so I borrowed money from my neighbor. And now everything is changed! Now that I have had the surgery I feel that God has answered me. I can return to my family and maybe they will accept me. Now I can sleep without the fear that in the morning that I will wake up and find my clothes and bed are wet. I am very happy.

Dativa, 24


"I would stay at home so nobody would notice... now I will work again as I used to"

I live at home with my husband and six children. I have never been to school, but have been able to support the education of all of my children. My husband and I brew a local beer from sorghum for our livelihood. I used to help serve the customers, but it has been difficult since I began leaking urine a year ago after delivering my sixth child.

When I started to labor I went to a district hospital. I was told I would need a C-section because my baby was in the wrong position. After the surgery I did not pass urine for three days, and I started to have abdominal pain. I went to the health center and a nurse tried to feel my bladder. When she did, a lot of urine came out, and since then I’ve been leaking.

At first, the nurses told me it would heal, but after 4 months of leaking urine, I started to worry. I consulted the health facility and they transferred me to Kibagabaga Hospital. At first I was not ashamed as I thought it would eventually resolve, but as time went on, leaking urine every day, I started to feel depressed. My family did not exclude me, they tried to care for me. The ones that knew I was leaking were the community health workers and the nurses at the health center. Most of my community did not know, but I would stay at home so nobody would notice. I didn’t want to travel and participate in community events, meetings, or church.

Now that I’ve been operated on, I am very happy and have hope for the future. I will return to my normal routine, and I will work again, as I used to. The income for our family has decreased since I developed this problem. But I have hope that once I am healed I will take over the work and be able to go to church again to give glory to God. My family is very happy that I have been healed.

Claudine, 24


"I wondered if it happened to all women who give birth"

I came to IOWD because I have been leaking stool since I delivered my only child in 2010. Now I live alone with my child and my sister’s three children. I’ve been caring for them ever since my sister passed away. I provide for the children by myself, it’s been hard. My husband abandoned me when I was pregnant, claiming it was because we were of different ethnic backgrounds. After he left I was very depressed, and the local health center followed my pregnancy closely because of my mental issue.

When I started to labor I went to the health center immediately. I felt the baby start to come, but then it stopped. The nurses did an episiotomy because my child was in the wrong presentation. Afterwards they did not repair the episiotomy and they put some gauze inside my vagina because I was bleeding. The gauze was left inside for one month. They never told me to take it out. I went to a different hospital, where they removed the gauze. Afterwards I noticed a purulent discharge. They told me it was an infection, and they gave me many medications, which were not successful. This whole time I was passing stool through my vagina where it was open.

At first I didn’t realize this was a big problem. I wondered if it happened to all women who give birth. When I consulted the hospital and they told me about my condition, I became very angry. I even went back to the health center and I told the director what happened. Even the people around me were not kind, they humiliated me because of the smell. I was not accepted into society.

I heard about IOWD on the radio, and used my own money to take the bus here. The doctors gave me medication, and now I no longer have that vaginal discharge. The doctors also operated on me. If I am healed, I will have the strength to work and regain a life for the children for whom I care. I am really thankful to Barbara, for what she does for Rwandese. I’m not the only one who benefits. We are all regaining the strength to work. Barbara took care of me personally. She came to see me, ask me what I can do in the future, if I know how to sew – to see if there is any work for me in the future. I am thankful for what Barbara has done for the others and me.

Haoua, 29


"I work to help other patients who have experienced what I went through"

I was 13 years old when I got married and 14 years old when I had my first delivery.  I was in hard labor for 3 days in my mother’s house. I was barely conscious when my husband finally took me to a clinic because the baby still had not come. By that time, my baby was dead and soon after, I began to leak urine.  I developed a fistula. My mother brought me to Niamey for help and we never saw my husband again.  I had six operations by different doctors, each time going back to my mother’s house to recover. My mother took care of me for all those years until she died. Now I have no one. Eventually, I came to the National Hospital where I was operated on by IOWD doctors.  I decided to remain at the National Hospital for good. I have nowhere else to go.

One of the nursing assistants, Mariama, suggested that I ask Barbara for work taking care of the fistula patients. So now I work hard to help the patients who have experienced what I went through.

Djamma, 50


After 15 years, "I am now dry"

I am very emotional.  I have been leaking from a fistula for 15 years. When I got sick, my husband left me and got remarried. He also took my 3 children.  So I  went back home to my parent’s home and lived there all those years. With time, my children would visit during the year as the village where they lived with their father was not far away from my parent’s village. I did not have a choice because I was not able to support the children.  So, I accepted this way of life.

But one day, one of my now grown-up children heard a radio announcement about American doctors at the National Hospital. The children sold tomatoes to raise money to pay for my transportation to Niamey! IOWD doctors operated on me and repaired the fistula. I am now dry. When I leave the hospital, I am going to live with my son.  I am crying, but I am very happy.

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