By: Krystle Crossman
Women in impoverish areas have to deal with dangers every day. There is one danger that causes them to become outcasts. They feel like Lepers in their communities because a condition that is all too common forces them to stay in the house. This common issue is called a fistula. It is an internal injury that happens when women have a baby. The fistula is a hole that develops between the [email protected] and the bladder or the colon. When this happens feces and urine can leak through the [email protected] causing embarrassing leaks and smells. This can cause these women to become secluded because people do not want to be around them anymore.
One woman living in Ethiopia recalls her pregnancy and the birth. She was just a teenager in high school. She had dreams of becoming a teacher one day. But then she fell in love with a man and married him. Even though she didn’t want to get pregnant, she didn’t know about contraception due to the lack of resources available in her area. She became pregnant. She tried delivering the baby at home instead of going to see a doctor but the baby ended up passing away as the birth canal was obstructed and the baby couldn’t come out. The young woman, Marima, ended up developing two fistulas. One was between her uterus and her rectum. The other was between the uterus and bladder.
After developing these fistulas Marima felt like she had become a Leper. No one wanted to come visit her because she leaked both feces and urine from her [email protected] which caused quite the smell. She would lie on plastic all day because the leaks wouldn’t stop. Eventually she gave up solid foods so that she wouldn’t leak as much feces and lived on calf’s milk and tea. Marima dropped to a very unhealthy 55 pounds and had bedsores all over her skin. She stated that she had wanted to die at 17 years old. But then a family member came along and saved her.
Marima’s family member brought her to Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia which is a center for women with fistulas. The center helped Marima and closed up the fistula that was between her rectum and uterus so that she no longer had to worry about leaking feces. She gained most of her weight back and was able to get up and walk again. She still has urine leaks but they are far more manageable. The doctor that fixed the first fistula is trying to figure out the best way to help her with the other.
The goal of centers like Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia and the Fistula Foundation is to educate young women on birth control and preventive options to reduce the risk greatly. C-Sections are an effective way of controlling fistulas and are used more often now during births. Marima states that the biggest issue is educating young women and helping them attain proper birth control.