My name is Asteria Mabirika, I am 54 years old living in Chananja village in Mbarika ward, Misungwi District council. 

I completed primary education in 1983 at Bukisha primary school and got married immediately. In 1986 I had my first pregnancy, whereby I had a home delivery, I had some complications due to prolonged labour, the traditional birth attendant had difficulties to pull out the baby, and unfortunately the child was already dead. In 1987, I had a second pregnancy and had a prolonged labor with the child being obstructed to come out, I was assisted again by a traditional birth attendant and the child was already dead when came out.

Two weeks later, I started leaking urine uncontrollably. I immediately went to Bugando hospital in Mwanza, after being attended I was given a follow up appointment. I decided to go to Sumve hospital where I heard there will be a visit of medical specialist. I was catheterized and given a discharged. Afterwards I decided to go to Traditional healer who assured me of cure if I sleep with him. I ended up living with him where I gave birth to a live baby girl however I had miscarriage on the following pregnancy with the traditional healer.

I left the Tradition healer and got married and divorced due to offensive smell. I remarry to another man but divorced due to the same problem, offensive smell. I went to another Traditional Healers who requested for Tsh 50,000 (USD 21.62) and gave me some herbs to use with no improvements.  I remarried to another man but divorced with abusing on the same urine smelling.

One day I was called by the Village Executive Officer to attend Village Development Meeting whereby during the meeting he was given a letter by a certain lady and  read out the letter and requested women who have urine problem to remain behind after meeting for more information. So, I waited and was informed there is a Fistula Ambassador who will come to speak with me. The Fistula Ambassador came, and told me to give out a brief story on my problem, I told her it all began during my second pregnancy.

She gave me more information related to Fistula and advised me to go to Bugando where all treatment cost will be paid by Amref. I made a promise to sell charcoal so that I would get money for fare. Few days later I was informed by the Fistula Ambassador that I am required to go to Bugando immediately.  

I went to Bugando with a referral letter written by the Fistula Ambassador. Upon arrival at Bugando I handled over the referral letter and was admitted. On the next day, while in the ward I was examined by a Doctor who informed me I only had one hole and promised to be operated on Monday, since it was a Friday and some services are not offered over the weekend.

On operation day, we were three and I was the first to be operated. I stayed in the ward for two weeks and four days post-operative. I was asked by the doctor if there is urine still coming out. On discharge, I was provided me with bus fare but due to payment system challenges I was asked to wait a little bit. COVID-19 started while I was waiting for the fare. I requested for discharge and use my own money and stayed with a relative in Mwanza.

Thanks, Amref for making me happy. Before I had this problem I used to run a restaurant where I sold some items to earn some income to make a living but after I encountered Fistula all community member turned their backs on me and stopped buying things from me due to the bad urine smell. I stopped the business and started singing and dancing in ceremony for income. I tried to dance without putting on slippers to avoid urine falling on my slippers because it could be easy for people to notice, and sometimes the urine stained people and others spat on me.

Upon my return from Bugando, the villagers heard that am cured and were very happy and praised. I now wait for a fully recovery but and I don’t have any income generating activities now.

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