Margaret suffered alone with fistula for 26 years. Her husband left because he could no longer stand her condition. There are 140,000 to 200,000 women living with fistula in Uganda with 2,000 new women develop fistula each year. The average Ugandan woman with fistula suffers for 10 years before receiving treatment.
With no money for treatment, Margaret had lost hope. After suffering for so many years, she was unsure whether her fistula could even be healed. When Margaret met an advocate from Worldwide Fistula Fund partner, TERREWODE, she couldn’t believe what she was hearing: her surgery would be free and she could be cured.
After a successful fistula repair, Margaret was invited to participate in a 2 week training course provided by TERREWODE. She learned sewing, beading, embroidery, cooking and catering. Margaret loved catering and started her own small catering business upon returning home. Over time, her business grew and she was able to employ 2 other fistula survivors, as well as set out to find more fistula sufferers and raise awareness.
Margaret established the Abarilela Fistula Solidarity Group. Comprised of mostly survivors, the group has referred dozens of women and girls with fistula in her community. In 2014, Margaret’s group referred 21 women with fistula for healing surgery. Margaret’s group raises prevention awareness through performances and has launched a microfinance group from their proceeds. Having raised nearly $1000, the group is able to sustain their awareness advocacy. Margaret and her team intend to buy a plot of land and own animals, creating further business opportunities together.
I am now accepted in my community.
Margaret has reunited with her husband and their relationship has improved. He now respects her opinions and decisions.
Photo courtesy Joni Kabana.