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Meet Leonia from Tanzania

Before a traumatic labor left Leonia with obstetric fistula, she enjoyed a happy marriage and earned a living as a tailor. However, due to her constant odor and the heavy stigma of her condition, she was unable to continue working, and her marriage became strained.

Leonia Johanes lives in the Kagera Region of Tanzania, more than 1,400 kilometers away from Fistula Foundation’s partner hospital. Despite this enormous distance, Leonia was still able to access treatment—thanks to a robust community outreach program that’s made possible by our donors.

Before a traumatic labor left Leonia with obstetric fistula, she enjoyed a happy marriage and earned a living as a tailor. However, due to her constant odor and the heavy stigma of her condition, she was unable to continue working, and her marriage became strained. Her incontinence also caused her constant pain. “It burns my thighs; I cannot walk,” she said.

Leonia asked her parents for help, and they enlisted a local witch doctor, who charged them high fees and gave Leonia ineffective herbal remedies. She suffered for two years, hiding her condition as best she could. But when the physical and emotional pain became too much, Leonia turned to her friends.

Immediately, her friends knew what had happened—Leonia had obstetric fistula! There was a well-known community health worker (CHW) in their area who had been educating the community about the condition. At first, Leonia was hesitant to reach out to the CHW. The hospital that could treat her was on the other side of the country in Dar es Salaam, and traveling such a distance would be expensive. However, thanks to the generosity of donors like you, all of Leonia’s travel costs were covered!

After years of suffering, Leonia is finally dry. She received life-changing fistula treatment at CCBRT (Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania), Fistula Foundation’s trusted partner facility. Now that she is healed, Leonia can return to work and her normal life. “I will not suffer again,” she said with confidence.

Published 4/6/2021

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