Following is a recent update from Sarah, a nurse at the Danja Fistula Center:
“Mariama is a 17-year old girl. She comes from a small village two days travel from Danja. She has seven brothers and sisters and is married to a man about three years older than her. Although she knew this man before her wedding day, she did not have the option of choosing to whom she would be married to. Her parents arranged it. After being in school for two years, she stopped so that she could become a married woman. Her new husband would not allow her to continue with her schooling. Mariama can not read or write.
Shortly after getting married, Mariama became pregnant. She was at home with her family when the labor pains started. She was in labor for three days before the decision was made to get her to the local clinic for some help. This clinic was two kilometers away and she took a bush taxi (a small cart pulled by two large oxen) to get there. Because the clinic did not have the tools to perform a cesarean section, the baby was pulled out of her. The baby did not survive the trauma of three days in labor and a forceful delivery.
Four days after delivery, Mariama noticed she was leaking urine. There was nothing she could do to control it. Walking, sitting or sleeping, the urine would constantly leak out of her. Her family heard the radio announcement for the Danja Fistula Center and brought her in. Her mother and young brother came with her and stayed in the village while Mariama had her surgery. Her husband did not accompany her although he was supportive of her coming.
Mariama was a patient on the ward for two weeks before she could return to the village with her mother and brother. While in the ward she learned to knit and did well at that. Her obstetric fistula was closed and she returned home just this past week. She will return in three months for a follow-up exam. Something I noticed about Mariama during her time here was the way she opened up. Although she is young and has a very innocent looking face, her face tells stories. Tribal cuts running deep. A trusting smile. She was able to make friends with everyone on the ward.
I asked Mariama if she would ever go back to school. She told me no. Because her husband would not allow it, she would eventually take up a trade of cooking or selling small things. Although she did not want me to take her picture, she did allow me to take a picture of her hands while we were sitting in the village talking.”