Binta is 35 years old and from Fidi, a landlocked village in northwestern Guinea. At 14 years old she was forced to marry a much older man, and soon became pregnant.
After five days of painful labor, she lost her baby. A few days later, she realized that she was not able to control her urine. The difficult labor had left her with an obstetric fistula.
Binta spoke with her aunt who alerted other family members, and together they decided to request the services of a traditional healer. The family sold their two goats to pay the traditional healer, whose services did nothing to heal Binta’s fistula.
Little by little Binta became isolated from her friends. She felt ashamed, and eventually went to the neighboring country, Guinea-Bissau, to seek treatment.
During her first month there, a family friend let Binta stay; then he, too, rejected her. She was not admitted to the hospital in Guinea-Bissau due to lack of funds, and spent nine months there working as a housekeeper, and sometimes even begging to survive. When she still did not have enough money for treatment, Binta finally decided to return home to Guinea.
Binta lived with fistula for 20 long years. The most painful part, she said, was the isolation. She was rejected by the community, by her husband, and even by most of her family members, and could not participate in any community gatherings (like weddings or baptisms).
One day, Binta’s uncle heard a rural radio message inviting women like her to the local hospital for treatment. The message also indicated that all expenses related to the treatment, such as transportation and meals, would be covered. Binta went straight from her village to the hospital.
Following an examination by a doctor, she and three other women were transported to Jean Paul II Hospital in the capital city, Conakry. Binta was required to stay for observation for 21 days before surgery to ensure she was not affected by the Ebola virus, after which she finally received the surgery she had been waiting for for 20 years…and it was a success! Overjoyed, Binta exclaimed, “Unbelievably, I am dry! No more leakage, no more bad smell! It’s just a miracle! What a long story!”
As Binta prepared to be discharged from the hospital, her plans were to triumphantly return to Fidi (her village) and to begin re-learning how to live a meaningful life in her community. “I got used to living in solitude,” she said.