Thursday, 16 August, 2018
On Friday, June 22, 2018, we set out on a journey to Njoro, Nakuru County to visit Carolyne Ngesa a beneficiary of Amref’s surgical outreach programme. We stop by her place of work and find her busy making the day count. She seeks permission from her supervisor to talk us.
We proceed to her house about two kilometres away and she starts by saying, “The way you see me is not the way I was. My life has been completely transformed.”
Carolyne lost both her parents in 2002 when she was nine years old and was left in the care of her grandmother. At the tender age of 11 years, Carolyne was raped by a relative and she conceived in the process. Due to her tender age and failure to access antenatal care, she delivered a stillborn and suffered fistula.
She knew she had developed a problem immediately after she gave birth. She could not walk for three days and did not have control of her urine and stool.
“Everything was coming out, the blood, urine and stool. My friends used to tell me, can’t you use your brain and hold the urine?” she recalls. Memories of those dark days are still very fresh in her mind.
Her childhood dream of becoming a nun was shattered. She felt hopeless, rejected and stigmatised by her family, friends and the community; the people she thought loved her most. Her own grandfather wanted her out of his home, but the grandmother was adamant that she was not leaving.
This was her story for five years. She later came to learn what her problem was through the radio when she heard about the symptoms of fistula.
A close friend of her family’s brought her to Nairobi to work as a house help as a way of earning some income. While in Nairobi, Carolyne narrates how she heard of an Amref Fistula surgery camp at the Kenyatta National Hospital, but she did not seek the services as she did not know whether she would get help.
After a few months, there was another camp where she met Jennifer Gatebi of the Amref Outreach programme who organised for her surgery. Carolyne had her fistula repair surgery in November 2009 at the Coptic Hospital, Nairobi.
Her surgery was a success and slowly, Carolyne began to gain confidence, to go out and meet people and make friends. It was only after this that she had the courage to talk to boys once again, and it was then that she met her husband.
She is now employed and the proud of mother of two boys: six year old Christopher, and four year old Maxwell.
She hopes that one of her sons will grow up to be a doctor so that he can help women suffering from Fistula.
Carolyne is grateful to Amref and urges women suffering in silence to seek fistula repair services as that is the only way they can helped.
“I urge all donors to continue supporting women with this condition since it is a shameful thing and women are suffering in silence,” she says. Through the Amref Health Africa in Kenya outreach programme, over 12,000 women and girls have had successful fistula repair surgeries since the start of the project.