Halima was in her twenties when she endured a horrible childbirth that left her with an obstetric fistula. Ten years later, Halima is now 36 years old, living in Elasha Biyaha, Somalia and shares the story of how she got her fistula:
“When I went to labour, the pain got stronger and stronger and lasted on and on. Something was not right. It took two days to convince my husband to bring me to a health facility. The doctors that saw me decided to immediately carry out a cesarean section. But they had no anesthesia. The pain was unbearable, and when I screamed they started beating me. My baby could not be saved and I developed what I later learned was an obstetric fistula. My husband left me because he could not stand the smell caused by my injury.”
Halima had given up hope of ever finding treatment for her condition and she suffered for ten years with fistula before learning that she wasn’t alone and that treatment was available at Hanano Hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia, just 18 kilometers from her home. The fistula program at Hanano Hospital had just been opened after years of instability in the region left Somalia without any fistula treatment centers. Women and Health Alliance International and Fistula Foundation have partnered to bring free fistula surgeries to the women of Somalia through this new program.
Halima traveled to Mogadishu for a life-transforming surgery that healed her fistula and allowed her to finally feel normal again. After ten years of leaking urine and feeling unclean according to her personal beliefs regarding purity, Halima was finally able to pray again. Now she is ready to start a new journey after regaining her dignity and her place in society.
Story and photo provided by our partner, WAHA, in December 2012.