Belaynesh’s story has been rewritten, beyond that of a fistula sufferer
October 10, 2017
A fortunate beginning
Belaynesh was born and raised in a remote, rural village in the South of Ethiopia. A year after she was married, Belaynesh was overjoyed when she found out she was pregnant.
In preparation for the arrival of their baby, Belaynesh’s husband travelled long distances to other villages to search for jobs. Towards the end of her pregnancy, as Belaynesh prepared for delivery at her mother’s home, she received the tragic news that her husband had died.
A time of mourning
Still grieving the loss of her husband, Belaynesh went into labour. After four long, painful days passed without any sign of the baby, Belaynesh fell unconscious. Her family rushed her to the nearest health facility in another village.
Belaynesh was unconscious for two days. When she finally woke, she was soaked in urine and faeces and unable to move her legs. Belaynesh learnt that her baby had been stillborn.
In the space of a few days, she had lost both her husband and and her baby. But not only that, Belaynesh was unable to move due to leg contractures and she had been left with a double obstetric fistula.
Isolated and hopeless
Belaynesh’s family took her home. For two tragic years she constantly leaked urine and faeces, was unable to walk, and lay on a bare mud floor, isolated from the world.
“In those two years my father had almost lost his assets looking for a cure for me. I stopped mixing with any[one] and stayed crippled inside the small separated hut crying. Sometimes I wanted [to] help my father who had lost everything because of me but my legs denied moving and I gave up hope.” – Belaynesh
Her journey of recovery had begun.
The road to rehabilitation
At Yirgalem, Belaynesh received extensive physiotherapy for her legs and her mobility slowly returned.
“During my stay at Yirgalem my legs showed significant improvement and I never [wanted to] be seated. I help the cleaners, wash[ed] cloths [and] chat[ed] with staff.” – Belaynesh
As Belyanesh’s delivery had caused major internal damage, she was transferred to the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital for surgical treatment. Here, she underwent various medical and surgical procedures. Most fistulas can be repaired with a single operation; our medical team has a 95% success rate. Sadly, Belaynesh was in the 5% of patients who aren’t so lucky.
Belaynesh underwent two difficult diversion surgeries. These were successful, but left her requiring ongoing medical follow-ups. Because of the severity of her injury, it was decided that she should be transferred to Desta Mender to receive ongoing medical care. Desta Mender is Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’s farm and training centre for longer-term patients.
A new beginning
At Desta Mender, Belaynesh underwent training in vegetable and dairy farming as well as hospitality. She now works as a baker in the student canteen at the Hamlin College of Midwives.
“Who else would give such holistic unconditional care? Thanks to Emaye (Dr Catherine [Hamlin]) I am leading a happy life looking so healthy than ever inside the good hands of Hamlin.” – Belaynesh
Belaynesh now has purpose and hope for her future.
Please help other women find their independence and rewrite their story, beyond that of a fistula sufferer. Empower a woman like Belaynesh today at hamlin.org.au/empower