Buritu’s journey from the devastation of obstetric fistula to the hope of a new life after being cured at the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital demonstrates the need to take preventative action to stop fistulas from occurring in the first place – as well as the incredible impact of the Hamlin Model of Care.
Life before fistula
In the remote village in southern Ethiopia where Buritu grew up, access to basic services such as medical clinics, schools and electricity was unthinkable. Buritu and her family have to walk for hours just to reach the closest market town. Completely illiterate, marriage was the primary objective for Buritu. At age 16 she was married, maintaining a household and working with her husband on the farm.
After giving birth to a healthy daughter, Buritu found herself pregnant again. With no access to qualified medical professionals, Buritu expected to have a home delivery assisted by village elders. Unfortunately, the complications of her labour would cause heartbreaking consequences.
The pain of fistula
After Buritu’s labour dragged on painfully, she was taken to the closest government hospital. There, she delivered a stillborn baby through a caesarean section. “At first I was so happy just to stay alive – so was my entire family. I felt the wetness down my legs but thought it might be from the aftermath of the long labour. I hoped it would stop soon but that didn’t happen and by the time the doctors told me that I faced a fistula [injury], I felt ashamed of myself and wished that I could die with my baby. I never believed that I would be cured,” recalls Buritu.
Buritu hid away in a small hut at her mother’s home, suffering the agony of fistula. Buritu was relatively lucky though, as her family supported her through the darkest times. “I am lucky that I have a caring husband. He would spend all day at home washing my clothes, feeding me and taking care of me until we headed to Addis Ababa,” Buritu reflects. After three months, she headed to the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital to get help.
Getting her life back
Buritu arrived at Hamlin’s Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital at the beginning of June. After a week of pre-operative rehabilitation and medical attention, Buritu underwent fistula repair surgery. Her injury was cured through a single operation, after which Buritu used a catheter for two weeks.
Today, Buritu is completely dry. “I was not expecting to be cured within such a short period of time. This hospital is unique in that it provides motherly care free of charge and brings back dignity for poor women like myself,” says Buritu. She has already returned home, ready to restart her life.
“You gave me my life back, for which I am forever indebted. I can’t thank you enough for what you did for me and for many more women like me,” reflects Buritu.
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