Impoverished women suffer from many things that we have never imagined. One of them is obstetric fistula. A fistula occurs most often in young women during a long delivery with no medical intervention. The baby is frequently stillborn and the mother left with chronic incontinence. In developing countries, over 40% of women give birth without the aid of a midwife or doctor and about 2 million women live with fistulas today. (In developed nations, this condition is prevented by conducting cesarean sections or is treated with surgery immediately after the birth. In the U.S., there has not been a case of untreated fistula since 1927.) The condition is devastating and many times the woman becomes a social outcast due to the smell of leaking urine and feces. The injury leaves the woman alone and in physical, emotional, and economic need.
A SowHope team, led by the President of SowHope Mary Dailey Brown, recently visited Dr. Intengre, a surgeon specializing in fistula repair. He has been working at a fistula hospital in Niger for six years and recently decided to go back to his home in Burkina Faso to do fistula repairs there, hoping to open a fistula hospital very near to the capital city. For now, he has been renting a local operating room at the Dr. Larry Ebert Medical Center to do repairs, when it is available. SowHope is keen to do more for women with fistulas. Dr. Intengre told us a story of one woman who was helped by our new partnership.
Sarata* was married at 16 and became pregnant. She delivered at home with no medical assistance, resulting in a fistula and the stillbirth of her baby. Because of the constant smell of urine, her husband divorced her. She lives the life of a social outcast for 9 years with no way to make money. With funding from SowHope, Dr. Intengre was able to do her fistula surgery. When she was released from the hospital two weeks later, all issues related to her fistula had been remedied. She then began a one-month stay at a facility that helps women by providing emotional support and teaching income-generating skills. At her 6-week follow-up appointment, she reported to Dr. Intengre with a big smile, “I am really thankful for your help. Now I can go back to my village and live a normal life. I have learned some skills that will help me make money. I am still young (at 25), so I hope I can find a new husband and begin a family.”
Your support continues to inspire women like Sarata every day.