Imagine you’re in labor. It is long and hard, and the baby just isn’t coming. The hours turn into days and everyone is very frightened – you most of all. The worst happens. Your sweet baby doesn’t make it. And because of the protracted labor, you are left with a hole between your vagina, and your bowel and bladder. It’s called an obstetric fistula, and it’s something that our maternal ancestors dealt with on a regular basis. The hole causes incontinence. You smell awful. It is extremely likely you will be banished from your family and community, and extremely unlikely the father of your child will stay by you.
How do you find a pathway back from such an injury, and the resulting rejection? Who can help you? The Fistula Foundation is one of the organizations leading the fight against this birth injury.
“For every woman that gets treatment, at least 50 go without. We know that one million women in this world suffer from untreated obstetric fistula.”
The foundation has just reached an important milestone. Since they began their efforts in 2009, Fistula Foundation has helped more than 20,000 women receive fistula repair surgeries. There are so many more hundreds of thousands to reach, but for those 20,000 women, it is truly a life-changing experience.
Women like 17 year old Felistas in Kenya. She was married at 16 after becoming pregnant, giving up her schooling and rejected by her family. She had an emergency c-section but her son was stillborn and she was left with a fistula. She dealt with the condition for two and half months before learning about the life-changing surgery she could receive. Her husband, initially supportive, rejected her. They have since reunited, and she is rebuilding her life.
Take Action Challenge
Support the work of Fistula Foundation. Read this article by Fistula Foundation CEO Kate Grant about why the 20,000 fistula surgeries milestone is so significant, and learn more about their work by following them on Twitter and Facebook. If you can, consider a donation to support surgery for a woman in need.