Photo and story by fistula ambassador Edina Kalikali from Magu District, Mwanza, Tanzania.

Esta Laurent [pictured right, in grey, above, in the shop she runs] is 32 years old and a mother of 4 children. Esta is a fistula survivor, she contracted fistula in August of 2020 during her 5th pregnancy, at this time Esta explains how she started feeling severe pain in her abdomen. Esta rushed to Lugeye dispensary to seek medical help but after examination she was referred to Magu District Hospital. She went through more tests and it confirmed that Esta’s unborn child had died while she was six months in her pregnancy. Esta explains how painful this time period was for her, both physically and emotionally. She was on painkillers at the time and none of them helped with the body pain, she then underwent surgery to remove the stillborn baby.

Life post-surgery

After surgery Esta explains that she started experiencing urine leakage, but she didn’t know why this was happening to her. She explained how this period affected her life, she would isolate herself out of feeling embarrassed and ashamed of her current condition. Her family was aware of her condition and remained supportive during this time. Esta was staying with her parents and she remained indoors most of the time avoiding all or any social contact with anyone. Her husband would visit her regularly to check on her and help her with whatever she needed at the time.

Road to recovery

After six months of suffering and living in isolation, Esta decided to go to Bugando Hospital. That’s when she was told about her fistula problem and that she needed to undergo surgery as soon as possible. As a fistula ambassador I am happy to say that Esta had a successful surgery and has fully recovered. She is back living her normal life and running a shop that helps her financially, she is also physically fit to work on her daily chores to help her family around the house.

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.

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