In a country where many girls are forced into marriages at a very tender age, fistula is common yet a condition ignored by many. Forced marriages sound like a thing of the past but that’s not the case.
Last year I toured a village I choose not to mention because of very many things. I was out for an official duty; days, weeks, months which eventually graduated into one year.
When I received the letter from my boss I had no intentions of working out of Nairobi; it was my comfort home and where I lived with family but I only had two options between going there and nowhere else. I had no time to decide between going and resigning what I loved doing.
Through God’s guidance and my husband’s support packed my bags and off I went. It wasn’t easy anyway how was I going to live without him? He too couldn’t figure out living with me far from him. We still pulled through despite the hardships (on a set date we gonna narrate this of course when he can face the camera).
Arrived there one late evening, extremely tired after a thousand directions via calls and messages. I kicked off my mission and with time I felt more at home. Though in a foreign County I easily related well and made a family out of strangers.
One morning I saw women gathered in a small hut. Being an off day just relaxed and out of curiosity I felt the urge of knowing what was happening and moved a step closer. They were women on a mission trying to save a life and bring forth another.
Fistula occur due to prolonged labour when a woman’s pelvic area is small. When a woman pushes up to three or four hours the exaggerated pressure cuts off blood flow to the tissues surrounding which causes a hole.
Inside this hut lied a young girl. From the look, I could tell she was in pain though full of strength struggling to push her baby out. This hut was far from what we call a private room during childbirth. Older village women kept coming in and out shouting ‘push! push! push!’ you’d think it was an object being forced out.
After the long wait and pain, the baby came out though dead. I could see a young mother in pain both body and child loss. Her body had suffered a lot of damage and she had to walk around with women dirt’s coming out of her young body.
The husband could smell his stinking wife and little children started teasing her. I saw life on a different path. A young girl’s life thrown to dogs, dreams shuttered and future destroyed. Little did I know it was a norm in this culture where young women are forced to marry old men as second and others, third wives.
This is where all the humiliation began, her life had changed. She couldn’t relate with others it wasn’t business as usual. People here termed this as a normal ordeal since it had happened to many before.
It is through this that I managed to know more about fistula and visited other young mothers in the village.
Meeting one of these mothers was profoundly moving, ashamed of incontinent urine, still mourning the stillbirth of their babies and abusive old husbands.
Existing without friends to console their conditions, no help or hope left just living a day as it comes and when darkness comes they feel like life has closed their curtains.
This is where the journey towards seeking medical attention for the girls began. Though I missed being near my family the sacrifice was worth.
Fistula occurs due to prolonged labour when a woman’s pelvic area is small. When a woman pushes up to three or four hours the exaggerated pressure cuts off blood flow to the tissues surrounding which causes a hole. This condition leaves a hole between the bladder, vagina, and rectum making it hard to hold urine and faeces.