#GivingTuesday Help Us Turn Tragedy Around
Posted by Francesca Rutherford on Monday 27th November 2017
Obstetric fistula is a hole between the vagina and rectum or bladder, caused by prolonged obstructed labor. It is a devastating condition that leaves the woman incontinent. We'd like to tell you Hawwa's story.
Hawwa was born and raised in a remote rural village in Oromia where she lived with her farming family. At just 15 years old she married and led a happy existence with her husband who cared very much for her. The news that she was expecting their first child was a time of great excitement and preparations began for their new family.
Hawwa’s labour was excruciating and her worried family tried every possible traditional remedy to help her. After five days of laboring Hawwa was left unconscious. Desperate, her family carried her by stretcher for five hours to the nearest town.
Sadly, it was too late to save Hawwa’s baby. Her prolonged labour had left her with a devastating and complex fistula injury. Mourning the loss of her baby and the trauma inflicted upon her body, Hawwa returned home. The never-ending flow of urine a harsh reminder of her devastating loss.
“After... I feared eating and drinking, I lost appetite. I never got back to my husband and almost divorced. Fistula had totally ruined my life.” Hawwa said.
But hope was not lost. Another woman in the village told Hawwa’s mother about the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital. It took three surgeries to completely cure her after which Hawwa rejoined her husband to rebuild their life together. Several years after her traumatic fistula injury, Hawwa was overjoyed to find that she was expecting twins.
“And now here I am totally dry, restarting a happy family…. Thank you all for reconstructing my whole life and enabling me to become a woman with self-esteem…. no words of mouth can express my heartfelt gratitude.”
Sadly, Hawwa’s story is not unique. There are so many women still facing a life of despair. The Ethiopian Ministry of Health estimates there are more than 36,000 women living in rural Ethiopia with obstetric fistula and that over 3,000 new cases occur each year.
Our three fistula partners are leading the Ethiopian government’s fistula taskforce. Together they aim to eradicate this devastating birth injury and help survivors resume their lives as mothers, wives and members of their community.
We can reach out to more women and help them. But to do this, we need your support.
A gift of £45 will help provide free surgery, maternal care, counselling and practical support so that fistula suffere can piece their broken lives back together.
Take a first look at our 2017 Christmas newsletter here.