Jumannee Charles, an Ambassador for Fistula, residing in Magu District, Mahala village in Mwanza region, Narrates.
Gaudensia’s journey with fistula
Gaudensia John got fistula in 2018. It was at this time that she started to experience some labor pain during her third pregnancy. She was rushed to Kisesa Health Facility, and later referred to Seokuoture Hospital in Mwanza Region where she was admitted for three days.
Due to the complication of her situation, she was later referred to Bugando Hospital. Whilst there she underwent surgery but unfortunately the baby had died inside the stomach. Fearing the associated costs and stigma surrounding fistula patients, her husband ran away while she was still at Bugando Hospital receiving treatment.
A journey to treatment begins
After two weeks at Bugando Hospital she was allowed to return home, having been told that she had fistula and needed to get surgery, she was scheduled for a surgery in mid-2019. After the surgery she was advised not to do any work for one year.
Facing the stigma
“Everyone one moves away from me whenever I would go to fetch water at the well because of the unpleasant smell,” Gaudensia recalls.
Leaving a normal life
After a successful surgery in 2019, she now lives happily and goes about her daily activities without any problems. Which is something she couldn’t do in the past.
As a fistula survivor, she is one of the beneficiaries of a goat-breeding project, supported by Amref UK through Amref Tanzania. She takes care of her five goats which helps her generate some income to support herself and her two children, this is something she couldn’t do in the past three years.
As an ambassador for fistula, I always try to advise my community to get rid of superstitious beliefs or witchcraft since fistula is treatable and [treatment is] completely free of charge.
Amref Fistula program is a partnership between Amref Health Africa UK, Amref Health Africa Tanzania, Magu Poverty Focus on Older People Rehabilitation Centre (MAPERECE), CCBRT, and Bugando Medical Centre, funded by The National Lottery Community Fund. Since the beginning of the project in June 2019 to date, the project has provided 165/180 fistula surgical repairs, which are funded by another donor out of which, 143 already received entrepreneurship training and 143 provided with seed capital to start income-generating activities as part of the social-economic empowerment. A few who did not receive seed capital had relocated from the project area and could not be easily reached.