Imagine having a stillborn child after enduring 4 or 5 days of child labor in a remote village far from professional medical care. Imagine after surviving the physical and emotional trauma of this delivery you spend the rest of your life leaking urine. Imagine that the smell of leaking urine or fasces, or both, is constant and humiliating, often driving loved ones away. Imagine if this condition was left untreated it would lead to chronic medical problems, including ulcerations, kidney disease, and nerve damage in your legs.
Over 2 million women and teenage girls in developing countries are living this nightmare every day. They live with a debilitating condition, Obstetric Fistula. They do not have to imagine the horror of living with the stench of urine or being forced to live in shame and isolation, they experience it first-hand every day.
These women are robbed of their lives and their dignity because of Obstetric Fistula, a condition that is preventable and treatable.
Sisters 2 Sisters is dedicated to helping these women reclaim their lives and to raising funds to support the Campaign to End Fistula, the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) program to eliminate this condition.
Join us in helping to end the suffering of these women and girls.
Our Goal: create a Sisterhood of Caring Women – 10,000 women donating a minimum of $10 to the UNFPA’s Campaign to End Fistula. Please click on DONATE for details on how you can help.
IN HER WORDS
“I endured 5 days with delivery pains. I was finally transferred to the hospital and the fetus was dead. After 3 weeks, I started to feel constant flows in my vagina, and the odor was very bad. The situation has persisted for 10 years.”
26-year-old woman, Equatorial Guinea
“The pain and loneliness associated with fistula is often compounded by a sense of shame and humiliation. In some communities, the condition is seen as a punishment or a curse for an assumed wrongdoing, rather than as a medical condition. The stigma associated with the condition keeps many women hidden away. Some go into deep physical and emotional decline and may resort to suicide. And because so many women with fistula remain marginalized and out of sight, many policy makers – and even some health providers – have failed to recognize the scope and severity of the tragedy.”
Maigida ya yarda ni domin ina ciwon yoyo, a quote from a health care provider at a fistula hospital.
“I have to put on heavy clothes. There are painful blisters and itching. I have to continue doing work and it causes increased dribbling of urine. Nobody wants to stay with me because of the smell.”
—A woman from Bangladesh, as quoted in an EngenderHealth study
“The medical officer at the health center told Habiba to go to the hospital, since they did not have the capacity to treat her. But there was no transport available. She would have to walk 11 kilometers to the main road to catch the pickup truck that could take her there. Even then, she might not be able to board because the truck was often too full to fit any more passengers. So Habiba stayed at the health center, unable to deliver for three days. Doctors may be able to repair the fistulas she developed, but her uterus also ruptured, so she will never have children.”
—Adapted from Faces of Dignity, Women’s Dignity Project, Tanzania
Everyone deserted me – my husband deserted me, my friends deserted me. I know I will never have a husband, I will never have a boyfriend, I will never have a baby. So I just live by myself.”
—Fatmata from Sierra Leone, as quoted by BBC
“My husband threw me out because I was leaking.”
Ciw ya sameka sai su kai ka su yarda kai.
Eritrean girl’s story
“When the contractions started, the doctor said, “Her opening is much too narrow. Her parents must have arranged her marriage when she was too young.” And it is true. I got married when I was 16, because my father arranged it. The doctor pulled the baby out by force, but she was not alive. I had a big, big tear, and they sewed it together. But right away I had a big problem. I could not control my feces any more.”
—From ‘Mending Torn Lives’, a UNFPA/Eritrea publication
“I will be able to go to church again. I will be able to help a bit in the fields. I will be able to go shopping and to go on the back of someone’s bicycle – all the things that other people normally do.
—Rukia from Tanzania about her surgery, as quoted by BBC Habiba’s story
Click on STORIES FROM SURVIVORS — more voices of fistula survivors
Click on FROM DESPAIR TO DIGNITY — more personal stories
HOW YOU CAN HELP
If after reading about the suffering these women endure you want to be apart of the solution, please join Sisters 2 Sisters in helping END Obstetric Fistula worldwide.
Please make a donation and then share this website with your family and friends. Please consider participating in the Sisterhood of Caring Women. With your help, together we can make a difference in the lives of these women and girls.
Joyce Mosley, Executive Director