In 2012 Domitila became pregnant with her 9th baby. During her final trimester, she had a severe episode of bleeding. Her family realized this indicated the baby had died, but hoped she would still be able to push it out on her own at home.
When nothing happened, they finally took her to the hospital where a hysterectomy was done. After this, she no longer was able to control her urine – she had developed a fistula.
Domitila is a woman from the Mhuila tribe and lives in a very rural area. She only speaks Mhuila and, like many women in her tribe, is illiterate. She has no idea how old she is, but staff estimates her to be about 50 years old. She is now a widow and has three surviving children (sadly, many children in rural areas of Angola do not make it to their fifth birthday).
A missionary nurse who visited the area identified a woman with fistula and brought her to CEML for help. We asked the woman if she knew anyone else with the same problem and she replied with an enthusiastic “yes!” Domitila arrived a week later, eager for the same opportunity as her friend to be cured. She underwent a successful fistula repair surgery the next day. Domitila was so delighted to have her problem resolved that she couldn’t help smiling, although most Angolans do not smile in front of cameras.