Mwajuma knows safe motherhood.
She’s the proud mom of a bouncing baby girl, a trained Safe Motherhood advocate, and an obstetric fistula survivor. Mwajuma beams with confidence now, but it wasn’t long ago that many in her village called her a “curse.”
Mwajuma grew up in a very hostile environment in Kenya.
I would see other girls of my age engage in sex for commercial purposes. I decided to follow suit in order to meet my needs.
She was just 13 when she became sexually active. With no idea of the risks or any knowledge of contraceptives, she quickly became pregnant. When it came time to deliver, her labor became obstructed and prolonged. Pressure from the baby crushed tissue between her vagina and bladder, creating a hole that urine would leak through uncontrollably. Mwajuma’s baby died during delivery.
For 8 long years, Mwajuma coped as best she could with her fistula. She stuffed her pants with rags to absorb as much urine as possible. She hid from others to avoid their repulsion.
It was the worst nightmare. My life was full of shame due to the stigma that is attached to fistula. I felt less than a human being.
In 2008, Mwajuma finally received life-changing fistula surgery through our on-the-ground partner, Let’s End Fistula (LEF). At the urging of her village and with support from LEF, Mwajuma went back to school. She became an HIV counselor, and in 2015, she became a mother.
I have my bouncing baby girl. She is alive. I’m so happy. I’m so… I lack words how I can explain, but I’m so, so grateful.
Mwajuma has accomplished more than she ever imagined, but she’s not finished. She wants to give her daughter a better life than she had, she’s determined to continue pursuing higher education, and she wants to prevent the injury that nearly ruined her life from destroying someone else’s.
We need to have more successful stories like Mwajuma. So I’m looking forward to be a voice. I just want to give back what the program has given to me. I’m looking forward to serve the community and [be] a voice worldwide.
Mwajuma is one of 216 fistula survivors in Kenya participating in new program. As survivors, we believe they are uniquely positioned to be champions of maternal health in their communities.
Safe Motherhood: Preventing Obstetric Fistula is a childbirth injury prevention program. With support from WFF, LEF developed the maternal health curriculum filled with best practices to prevent injury and save lives. LEF trained survivors like Mwajuma on the curriculum in October of 2018. Today, the 216 survivors are teaching their communities Safe Motherhood.
Fistula is treatable as well as preventable. When we sensitize our communities about safe motherhood, we are not only preventing fistula, but we are also addressing other childbirth-related complications and death. For me, I find it rewarding if only I can help another young girl not go through the pain and humiliation that I went through.
Photos courtesy Mwajuma. Photo of Mwajuma receiving certificate by Soja Orlowski.