Bekelu was married at the age of 12 and pregnant by the age of 14. Her pregnancy ended with five days of painful labour. Desperate for help, her family carried her to the nearest medical centre, 40km away.
At the clinic, physicians delivered her stillborn baby. They said that Bekelu was lucky to be alive. Bekelu didn’t feel lucky. She had lost her baby and suffered terrible injuries including a double fistula. Urine and faeces ran down her legs.
Bekelu lived with her mother after her husband left her. She did not visit relatives or socialise. When she occasionally went to the market, she put rough cloths under her underwear to try and hide her injuries.
After 3 months, Bekelu arrived at Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia where she received holistic care which included surgery, physiotherapy, counselling, good nutrition and a brand new dress. Bekelu says that she is very thankful for the incredible care she has received.
Bekelu says the best thing about her new life is that she doesn’t feel shame anymore. She doesn’t have to hide away. She can visit the market. She can socialise. She is happy.
Photo by Kate Geraghty