The journey to hope – Asnakech’s story

Today, we learn about Asnakech’s journey from enduring the tragedy of stillbirth and associated childbirth injuries to moving forward with hope into the future. Childbirth injuries take a terrible toll on women around the world and remain a huge public health concern for women in Ethiopia. Without access to proper healthcare, this preventable condition leaves survivors incontinent and humiliated.

For many women, like Asnakech, it can take years before they access fistula treatment and they suffer in silence for too long.

Facing unbearable loss

Asnakech is from South Ethiopia and lives in a village called Arbaminch in a green, lush area where vegetable farms sustain much of the community. After giving birth to two healthy daughters, she was not concerned about the possibility of complications during her third pregnancy. However, she faced a delivery more difficult than she could ever imagine as she laboured from almost two days at home before she was taken to the nearby hospital. Tragically, her stillborn baby was delivered via caesarean section and she was left permanently incontinent of urine.

Asnakech returned home not only having to cope with the unbearable grief of losing her baby but also having to come to terms with her childbirth injury. Given she is from a traditional society, she was too ashamed to discuss her difficulties and instead bore her condition in silence while trying to manage her incontinence as best she could. She avoided attending the market or church and distanced herself from society, relying on her husband and two daughters to take care of her.

For another three years, Asnakech suffers from obstetric fistula without treatment. Finally, Asnakech’s brother, who is a nurse himself, came to visit and was shocked to learn of her condition. Angry that his sister had endured so much, he took Asnakech to the main hospital in Addis for treatment.

Moving forward following fistula treatment

Asnakech was welcomed into our hospital with open arms and a month following a successful surgery, she was overwhelmed to discover that she was completely dry and ready to return home to her family. She was so resigned to her condition that she didn’t believe she could be cured until her catheter was removed two weeks after the surgery and she could see that there was no leaking.

Asnakech’s joy was communicated to the staff as she went out of her way to thank everybody she came across in her own language – her thanks were truly from the heart as she can now move forward with her life.

“God bless you all for what you have done to me I never had imagined this to happen, you make my dream thank you,” Asnakech said following her successful surgery.

Asnakech can now look forward to her new life without the stigma and pain of an obstetric fistula. Dr Catherine Hamlin’s vision has meant that more and more women in Ethiopia can access life-changing fistula treatment.

We believe every woman has the right to deliver her baby safely without the fear of childbirth injuries and with your support, we can continue our work. Help us restore dignity to women in Ethiopia by donating today.

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