Lillian was married at age 15. After 2 children, her third delivery caused her fistula at 18 years old.
She attended all recommended antenatal care visits and recommendations from her midwives, however, her labor required emergency obstetric care services that are only offered at referral hospitals.
At the onset of labor, Lillian’s aunt and sister in law rushed her to the nearby health center in her village where she labored for two more days.
Lillian was finally referred to a hospital but was asked to pay to fuel the ambulance to take her there. Lillian could not afford the $5 USD they requested.
So she walked about 15km from the hospital to a nearby camp where she hoped to find free transportation from someone who might take pity on her situation.
Lillian’s situation worsened. By the time they reached the camp, she could no longer walk and eventually fell unconscious.
Her aunt and sister in law told her that the maternity ward had been closed for the day once they arrived. One of the nurses, on seeing Lillian’s condition, volunteered to call the doctors. However, the doctors spent precious hours arguing over whether to conduct a caesarian section since the operating room was closed.
The doctors eventually performed the C-section but the baby was stillborn. Lillian also suffered a fistula and her right leg was paralyzed from nerve damage caused by the prolonged obstructed labor. The doctors also informed her they removed her uterus.
Upon discharge from the hospital, her husband had already lost interest in her. “He stopped providing for me. I could spend months without seeing him.” Her husband gave a condition that unless she produced more children, he would not regard her as his wife. However, without a uterus, this was not possible.
Lillian could not access raw materials for her business or sell her products and she did not get any support from her family because they complained about her smell.
Lillian left her marital home and found TERREWODE. After living with a fistula for 6 years, she received free fistula repair surgery and attended the reintegration courses at the Women’s Empowerment Center. She has now resumed her business of making papyrus mats. From this, she earns daily income but it is not sufficient to provide her housing. Lillian moves from one place to another seeking a place to sleep.
I can today sleep soundly on a dry bed. I hope with additional income, I will expand my business and possibly build a house.
Lillian’s advice to pregnant women is to prepare financially for delivery, and to teenage girls to stay in school and not rush in to marriage.