Irego won our hearts when she welcomed the WFF team to Uganda in March 2019 with an impromptu song:
Welcome to TERREWODE
We’re very happy to receive you
Like a baby born today...
She smiled and laughed a lot — while sharing her plans for the future and showing us the beautiful apron she was making — but Irego’s entire demeanor changed when asked about her experience with fistula. Her voice softened and her eyes brightened with unshed tears.
At 15, some school friends invited Irego to go with them to their home. When her friends left to fetch water, their brother raped her. Irego didn’t tell anyone what had happened.
From [their home] I went back to school, I couldn’t say because me, myself, I was really young. I don’t know about anything bad in life.
Furious with her for becoming pregnant, Irego’s parents repeatedly beat her and refused to take her to a hospital when she went into labor. Without medical care, Irego’s labor became prolonged and obstructed. Pressure from the baby tore a hole between her bladder and vagina through which urine would leak uncontrollably. In over 90% of fistula cases, the baby dies, but Irego’s baby girl, Emma, survived.
The abuse Irego suffered for getting pregnant worsened when she developed a fistula. She began to hide from her family.
Even my own parents hated me. They couldn’t allow me to talk, they couldn’t allow you to sit next to them. They couldn’t support you, whatever you say.
Irego sought treatment at a local hospital where a community advocate with TERREWODE found her. Irego received free fistula surgery and empowerment training that included classes in entrepreneurialism and tailoring. Irego supports herself and her daughter by teaching other survivors how to tailor clothing at TERREWODE.
She told us, with a renewed smile and laugh, about her plans to further her education. Irego hopes to take a fashion and design class that will teach her how to make wedding dresses — a skill she then wants to share with other survivors.
I thank God for TERREWODE and its supporters outside like you people. I am happy that my friends, my sisters, will never suffer again.
Your support provides services to more women like Irego. We’re working to help our on-the-ground partner, TERREWODE, triple the number of free surgeries provided to Ugandan women each year. You can help us reach our goal to provide 600 women with hope and healing each year through TERREWODE’s new hospital.