January 10, 2019
Life before fistula
Neima doesn’t know how old she is. In her village, age isn’t a concern, survival is. When asked what their age is, Neima and her peers estimate.
The second youngest in a family of five children, Neima’s childhood was spent looking after family animals and assisting her mother at home before she was married around the age of 14.
The village where Neima grew up is situated in a remote part of Eastern Ethiopia, approximately 100km from Hamlin’s Harar Regional Fistula Hospital. The mountainous topography of the area makes the village difficult to access, so basic infrastructure like health facilities don’t exist.
Neima conceived shortly after her wedding. She went back to her parents’ home as the due date approached medical treatment seemingly not an option.
“I never thought of visiting a health facility during my pregnancy because it was not a common practice in the village and walking three hours on a difficult road to reach the closest clinic was tiresome. I thought that like my mother, I should deliver at home assisted by a traditional birth attendant from our village,” says Neima.
Neima’s labour was long and arduous. She needed immediate medical assistance, however, she stayed at home for a long two days before she was carried on a home-made stretcher to the nearest government health clinic. Due to obvious complications, she was referred to a government hospital in Harar.
Finally, after four days of suffering, Neima gave birth to a stillborn baby.
“When I woke up and learned the sad news of losing my first baby, it was heartbreaking but I also felt relief for no longer enduring that painful labour,” Neima said.
The complications of the surgery were evident early on, as Neima recalls: “I stayed under a catheter for a week at the hospital and when it was removed I was unable to control urine. I was then discharged from the hospital hoping that it was a side-effect of the surgery and would soon stop”
Back at home, Neima spent two months in discomfort waiting for her body to heal yet the incontinence remained. Her worried father brought her to the government hospital in Harar where the professionals identified Neima’s fistula and referred her to the neighbouring Hamlin Harar Fistula Hospital.
Hope and confidence
In October 2018, Neima arrived at the centre to begin preparing for her fistula repair surgery.
“Because of this problem, I was divorced and my father was displaced from his work on the farm, which is the only source of income for the whole family. Fistula brought a big mess on my family. After being here I am enthusiastically looking forward to my cure with hope and confidence.”
Thanks to your support, Neima has since undergone successful fistula repair surgery. She is now cured and dry. Neima is so grateful for the care and love given by the team at Hamlin, and she is hopeful for her future.
Donate today to help give women like Neima a new life filled with hope, confidence and free of fistula.