Married for Food
In Uganda, Dinah was married at age 14 with only a 5th grade education. Living in extreme poverty, her parents saw her into this young marriage in exchange for food.
By the age of 15, Dinah had her first at home delivery under the care of a Traditional Birth Attendant. She repeated this method for her next 9 pregnancies.
At 40 years old, with 10 successful deliveries, Dinah experienced her final and most devastating birth yet.
During her one visit to an antenatal care clinic, she found out that her baby was in the wrong position which would make an at home birth more dangerous. However, at 8 months along, Dinah began her labor pains. It wasn’t until two long days of labor had passed when the decision was made to rush her to Katakwi hospital. At the hospital, the nurse forced Dinah to push the baby out harder and then ridiculed her.
She sat cross-legged on top of the chair and ordered me to push the baby by myself…She told me since you went in for unprotected sex well knowing that you were already too old to deliver normally. I’m only helping you to push your baby.
After almost three hours of pushing without progress, a doctor finally came to see Dinah. He wheeled her off for a caesarian section operation where the problems continued. Dinah had to receive four units of blood and over 20 bottles of IV fluids. Her baby was stillborn. Damage from her obstructed labor resulted in her uterus being removed completely.
If the nurse had helped me much earlier, maybe- just maybe my baby would have lived
Dinah spent the next 3 months in the hospital. She was put on oxygen for three days and the prolonged obstructed labor resulted in foot drop, a condition where it becomes difficult to lift the front part of the foot.
She began to leak urine uncontrollably, she had a fistula. She was referred to visit TERREWODE Women’s Community Hospital, a WFF partner, to repair her fistula but first needed to complete 3 months of bed rest.
Dinah’s condition quickly became a burden to her family. Her girls had to drop out of school to help tend to her at home, their alcohol brewing business came to a halt, and the home itself was quarantined from anyone outside of family. Her husband couldn’t handle the situation anymore and tried to send her back to her family.
My husband secretly sent a message to my brothers to come and pick me up saying I was suffering from a contagious disease that would also affect the children. However, my brothers requested him to first cure me before they could come for me.
After 3 months of bed rest, her body had still not recovered fully and was not ready to undergo fistula surgery.. TERREWODE took Dinah in and gave her the support she needed to prepare for her surgery and boost up her immunity over the next 6 months.
“Waking up on a dry bed was a miracle for me,” she said.
Dinah’s repair was a success. She was ready for recovery and began her two week reintegration training determined to help other women suffering from similar injuries.
I’m going to use my own experience to educate fellow women on family planning and also call on men to help their pregnant mothers.
Dinah utilized every piece of knowledge she gained during TERREWODE’s empowerment training. Within a month she had already organized a new Fistula Community Solidarity Group. The group consisted of 4 survivors, 6 women community leaders, and 7 men and youth. Her group aims to raise awareness on maternal health and especially obstetric fistula.
Dinah decided with skills learned throughout empowerment training to reconcile her relationship with her husband. She is happy to share that everything is returning back to normal.