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Meet Dembe from Uganda

When her labor began, Dembe walked the 10 kilometers from her home to the nearest heath center. She expected a normal delivery, but tragically, this would not come to pass.

Dembe* became pregnant at the young age of 17, and was forced to leave her education behind. In Dembe’s community, girls who become pregnant are kicked out of school, to make an example out of them for other female students.

The man who impregnated Dembe asked her to have an abortion, but she flatly refused. As the pregnancy progressed, he finally saw that she was serious about raising the child, and became supportive.

Dembe did everything right during her pregnancy—she kept up all of her prenatal doctor’s appointments, and made sure that both she and her baby stayed healthy. When her labor began, Dembe walked the 10 kilometers from her home to the nearest heath center. She expected a normal delivery, but tragically, this would not come to pass—Dembe experienced a wrenching, prolonged labor, and her child did not survive.

“I was shattered! Completely heartbroken,” Dembe said. When she returned home, she realized that she was leaking urine. Dembe remembers sitting as still as possible, trying to reduce the leakage. But try as she might, she could still see fluid running down her thighs and legs, her dress wet. She started padding herself with cloth to hide the incontinence.

A few of Dembe’s neighbors heard about her condition and had compassion. They connected her with a community health worker, who searched and searched for resources to help Dembe. After some time, the health worker reported wonderful news: a nearby group was screening for fistula patients. Dembe went right away, and was soon transported to CoRSU Hospital, Fistula Foundation’s partner in Uganda.

After a successful repair surgery, Dembe is finally dry. “I thank God so much for the amazing people from Fistula Foundation and CoRSU, for treating me and giving me hope again.”

* Name changed for privacy

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