With tears flowing down her face, Agnes recalls the joy of receiving life-changing surgery through Let’s End Fistula Phase One:
I find it overwhelming to share how it felt like to be able to use bathroom for the first time again after 17 years. The surgery was a rebirth for me; it was like I started living again.
Her story of fistula is similar to many other women in Kenya and throughout Africa. Agnes went through a difficult, obstructed labor and lost her baby. The prolonged pressure on her vagina led to a fistula. Agnes’ friends and family ridiculed her for her inability to control her body’s most basic functions. For 17 years, Agnes suffered both pain and humiliation from her injury, but one person stuck by her.
I was rejected by friends and even my very close family, but having the unwavering love and support from my husband became my source of strength that carried me through for 17 years.
Fistula-free at last, Agnes became one of 216 survivors to join 12 solidarity groups for social reintegration and economic empowerment. The goal is to help survivors become economically secure.
The 43-year-old already owned a ‘chapati’ cooking business, so the solidarity group helped Agnes create a business plan that has increased her profits fivefold. She also now sells vegetables and tomatoes, reporting good profitability. From the profits of her two businesses, she’s bought 2 goats, 1 sheep and 2 piglets.
Putting into consideration all the knowledge and skills acquired through the trainings by the leadership team, I swore to better my life… at times, I look at getting fistula as a huge blessing because today I have become confident, knowledgeable and economically empowered compared to when I had not got fistula.