November 27

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Carol’s story…..

Some stories that move you …..

There are some stories that move you and you want to share and raise awareness …….this is one such story with a happy ending – this is Carol’s story ….

I was privileged to be invited to Amref’s fund raising golf tournament last Friday, ‘The Fistula Golf Challenge’ at the Country Club in Karen, in Nairobi.

One of the competing team’s taking part in the 9-hole challenge.

Fundraising_Karen_24 Nov 038

 Fundraising_Karen_24 Nov 019 This is where I met Carol, a brave, shy young woman willing to share her story.

 

On the face of it, Carol seemed like a normal healthy woman married with 2 healthy boys. However, she a has a story which she shares with 1000’s of women, particularly in Africa. That is of experiencing obstetrics fistula which is characterised by a hole in the birth canal and one or more of a woman’s internal organs. caused by obstructed or prolonged labour and lack of access to skilled health care.

Carol became pregnant at the age of 12. At the time, she had no parents and no family support other than her grandmother. However, although the pregnancy was normal, the childbirth wasn’t due to prolonged labour and lack of access to skilled health care. As in many such cases, the baby died at birth but afterwards Carol started having problems of chronic incontinence. She ended up using the nappies, that she had bought for the baby, for herself, often changing every 2 hours! She didn’t realise at the time but she’d experienced typical obstetrics fistula. Due to these problems, she lost her confidence, she couldn’t talk to her friends and became more and more isolated. Then in 2009 she met Jennifer from Amref Health Africa. Jennifer realised what must have happened and explained to Carol about Amref’s programme to treat obstetrics fistula through free surgical camps. She convinced Carol to undergo the fistula repair surgery procedure at the Kenyatta Hospital in Nairobi under Amref.

Like 85 -90% of the fistula surgery cases, her repair operation was a success and slowly Carol began to gain confidence, to go out and meet people and make friends. It was after this time that she had the courage to talk to boys once again and met her husband.         

Today she has 2 boys Imaxwen and Chris aged 6 and 3 years old, respectively. Since her operation, she has been able to talk to other women in her community about her experience and the fistula program that is available but she tells me that there is still a long way to go in terms of understanding and awareness of the condition.

 Fundraising_Karen_24 Nov 028 These days Carol has much to smile about – a Fistula repair success story.

Not everyone is as lucky as Carol. For those women without access to fistula surgery, their lives can be isolated and marginalised without the support of their family, unable to work and may even result in abandonment by their husbands/partners. Even after surgery, for many women (probably as many as 10-15%), the fistula repair operation may not be successful. For these women, it can be a life of loneliness since they are unable to have children, their chances of finding a husband who will accept them are greatly reduced.

Finally, through education, awareness and improved access to healthcare including family planning we have a chance of eliminating obstetrics fistula………