Yeteme’s story – now a proud mother of three

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“My name is Yeteme Dessiew and I have a story to tell that will make you cry first in sorrow and then for joy.”

Yeteme was born and raised in a small rural village in Wello, northern Ethiopia. “I heard during my childhood that people in urban areas had everything – electricity, road, water and clinic, but I never bothered about all these because I never experienced them.”

As an only child, Yeteme was no stranger to hard physical work. “I did everything as a young rural girl… I know there was too much hardship, but that was not the worst part of my life. The worst part came later after I got pregnant with my first child,” she says.

“I was about 16 when I was given to a husband in close distance to our village. But the marriage didn’t last long. He accused me of infertility, and eventually divorced me.”

“My second marriage was looking so good,” she recalls. She started getting fully involved in the family business and became an experienced wife with a happy extended family. Having believed her first husband’s accusation of her infertility, Yeteme’s happiness was complete when she found she was pregnant with her first child.

What followed on Yeteme’s due date horrified everyone. Yeteme laboured for three protracted days in unbearable pain. The village’s traditional birth attendant was at a loss in a situation she had never come across before. All she could do was let Yeteme push until the baby delivered naturally. Finally, Yeteme gave birth to a stillborn baby and to add to her misery she was left with an obstetric fistula and urinary incontinence.

Six months believing there was no hope.

In the eyes of Yeteme and her mother such a strange health condition was incurable and may have been the result of a curse. So Yeteme stayed at home for six months, lying on rough cloths at the edge of her mother’s small hut, crying every day believing there was no hope.

“Whenever I think of those shameful months I spent soaked with urine I still feel the pain. Villagers told my mother that my death would be much better than living in such an awful condition. I now wish this debilitating injury wouldn’t happen to anyone even to my enemy,” Yeteme explains.

Finally, Yeteme’s husband heard of Hamlin facilities from a relative living in the city. He sold a cow, a very precious commodity in Ethiopia, and brought her to the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital. Following successful surgery, Yeteme was completely dry. It had taken three short weeks to transform her life.

Seven years later, Yeteme fell pregnant again. She now has two daughters, aged 5 and 8, and just recently returned to a Hamlin hospital to deliver her third child through a clean, safe caesarean. She welcomed a beautiful baby boy into the world.

“You have repaired my whole life and made me a proud mother of three… Thank you and God bless you all.”, Yeteme says.

Help others like Yeteme rebuild their lives after fistula surgery and bring happiness to their world.

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