Guest Blog: I’m lucky to have found WFF
February 19, 2019
Dr. Itengré with his wife Rasmata stand in front of Larry Ebert Medical Clinic in Burkina Faso. WFF is currently using space inside the clinic to provide medical care to women with fistula.
Guest Blog by Dr. Itengré Ouédraogo
I am Dr. Itengré Ouédraogo. You may have heard or seen my name over the past 8 years in connection with Worldwide Fistula Fund. Today I’d like to share my story with you and thank you for helping to make my successes, and those of the women I serve, possible.
Originally, I was trained as a general surgeon. I provided services to people living in the city of Dioulasso in Burkina Faso. However, in 2011 my life’s work would begin as I became engaged in the fight against fistula by joining WFF in Niger as Danja Fistula Center’s Medical Director.
WFF wants only the highest quality care for patients. With their mentorship, I set out to become an expert fistula surgeon and achieved my goal in 2013 when I became FIGO-certified. Throughout this time, the woeful stories of women and girls afflicted with fistula motivated me to work hard.
One woman’s story in particular stands out in my mind. Mme. Yougbare was a young woman when she became pregnant. While delivering, she suffered obstructed labor, had no access to C-section, and endured internal injuries that left her incontinent – steadily trickling waste uncontrollably through her vagina. She went from the joy of expecting a newborn to the sadness of becoming broken. She smelled. She was abandoned by her husband and family and forced to separate from her daughter all because of circumstances she could not control.
My work at WFF took me deep inside the suffering of women like Mme. Yougbare and gave me a feeling of personal responsibility to place my skills at their service. I performed successful fistula repair surgery for Mme. Yougbare, but more than that, she received holistic treatment sponsored by WFF. It was so rewarding to see her return to the hospital and find her with a big and lovely smile.
About a year ago, it became apparent to me that I must return to my home to deal with imminent family concerns. My home is in Burkina Faso, a land-locked West African country that struggles against chronic poverty and malnutrition.
My future became uncertain and my work looked to be at an end. However, I’m pleased and grateful that WFF entrusted me with developing fistula services here in the capital city of Ouagadougou (pronounced Waga-Dugu). As in most of Africa, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of women in Burkina Faso are victims of fistula and only a small percentage have access to treatment.
I feel compelled to take this opportunity to say that your generosity does much more than just heal childbirth injuries and train doctors like me. Good health enables people living in poverty to contribute more strongly to their own success; work, education, and household income all improve.
I know we will continue to bring women like Mme. Yougbare from sadness to joy! We recently set a goal to provide 80 life-changing surgeries and 50 training opportunities to women with childbirth injuries in 2019 through our Burkina Faso program (number of training opportunities based on percentage of women who have previously enrolled; some women already have jobs).
I know that none of this would be possible without your support. You have made a real difference in women’s lives and in my life. We have together created a system that works.
- Surgeries are being successfully performed.
- Survivors are returning home with dignity.
- Advocates are reaching out for prevention.
Thank you for helping make my success, and those of the women I serve, possible. I look forward to writing to you all again soon from my home in Burkina.