‘Her Life Was Blocked’

Natalia—a 24-year-old woman from Mozambique—has experienced an undue amount of suffering in her young life. Her journey with fistula began when she was only 14 years old, living in the Mandimba district of Niassa Province. What should have been a time of youthful joy turned into a nightmare when she became pregnant and endured a prolonged labor that ended in a stillbirth. From the ordeal, she developed fistula, which left her incontinent and stigmatized by her community. 

For 10 long years, Natalia’s life was marked by pain, shame, and social isolation. “My friends laughed at me because I don’t have children, and they say I’ve already rotted,” she recalled. The constant leakage forced her to face relentless ridicule. Her husband abandoned her, and despite searching for medical and traditional treatment for years, she found no solution to stop the uncontrollable leaking. Natalia was devastated when the doctors declared her case “too complicated” to treat. Through it all, Natalia’s father remained a source of love and strength for her, encouraging her to continue searching for a cure. 

A Beacon of Hope: The Surgical Outreach Effort

Natalia’s despair turned to hope when she heard about a surgical outreach effort  organized by our partner Focus Fistula at Lichinga Hospital. Despite the complexity of her condition, the surgical team, led by Dr. Igor Vaz, agreed to take on her case.

Generally, fistula surgeries are simple, but Natalia’s case was far more complex than normal. Natalia underwent multiple operations, each requiring meticulous care and precision. Her father’s unwavering support was pivotal during her arduous journey to recovery. “When my daughter got fistula, she was still a child! She lost the baby and started urinating uncontrollably. Her life was blocked,” he said. After three complicated surgeries, Natalia was finally cured. “[There were] many years of suffering for her, and I am very happy to see her well and smiling,” he added.

Natalia and her father dance with glee as they celebrate her freedom from fistula. 

The bond between Natalia and her father is a powerful reminder of the resilience and love that can help women overcome even the most formidable challenges. Natalia’s father not only provided emotional support but also stood by her through multiple surgeries and through the long road to recovery. His joy in seeing her regain her continence—and her happiness—is immeasurable.

Natalia’s Transformation

Almost two months after her treatment, Natalia’s life has dramatically changed. She is no longer shackled by the constant leaking that once dictated her existence. “Thank God, I’m fine. Now I’m really dry. My underwear no longer gets wet. Before the surgery, I suffered a lot, and I always smelled bad. Now I go out onto the street, I go to the market, and people no longer point at me or speak badly of me. I am fine,” she said.

Natalia’s transformation goes beyond physical healing; it has restored her confidence and her sense of purpose. She is eager to reintegrate into her community and rebuild her life. Her plans include starting new ventures and reconnecting with those she had withdrawn from during her years of suffering.

Natalia’s journey from despair to hope is a powerful testament to the impact of fistula treatment and the importance of community support. Her father’s ever-present support and the skilled work of the surgical team at Lichinga Hospital were crucial in helping her reclaim her life. 

 

Published Jun 14, 2024

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