Survivor Stories

Between 2005 and September 2013, 33,402 fistula repair surgeries were supported with funding from USAID, over 23,000 of which were supported by Fistula Care. Each woman has her own amazing story. Here are just a few of the women whose lives have been transformed by fistula surgery. Use our map to navigate by country, or see below for women’s stories from Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Guinea, Mali, Nigeria, NigerSierra Leone, Sudan and Uganda.


kareema Kareema was repaired at Kumudini Hospital in Bangladesh.
reshmi Reshmi suffered from fistula for many years before finally receiving a successful repair.
Yesmin Yesmin hopes to have a child after two stillbirths and a fistula repair surgery.
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Zemede While living with fistula, Zemede opened her home to women in Ethiopia who were on their way to the hospital for repair. After 27 years of living with fistula, Zemede will finally receive repair surgery.
Agegnehush Agegnehush, an Ethiopian mother of three, developed a fistula after her fourth pregnancy.
Tihun Tihun and her husband, Aweke, have learned valuable lessons from Tihun’s experience with obstetric fistula.
Yeserash Now fully recovered, Yeserash expresses the hardships of obstetric fistula and, along with her father, hopes that people will learn from their story.
Abebu Abebu’s life has been transformed by her fistula repair and she is now able to lead the life that she used to.
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Photo of Mouima Mouima suffered from an untreated obstetric fistula for 28 years before being healed in Guinea.
Marie-Claire Marie Claire lived with fistula for 50 years before receiving surgery.
Fatoumata Through the support of her husband and treatment at Kissidougou Hospital, Fatoumata now lives without the complications of a fistula.
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Agaicha After receiving treatment for fistula, Agaicha plans to dedicate her life towards helping other women with the same condition.
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Mariama Mariama has spent two months at the hospital, waiting for the surgical team to be available and for a bed to become available for her on the ward.
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Paulina After suffering from fistula for 25 years, Paulina is now dry.
Ugo Ugo came for fistula treatment with her husband and son, and is happy following her successful repair.
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Sierra Leone

Ballay Ballay is thankful that her fistula is finally repaired.
Barome Barome suffered from fistula for 20 years before being repaired in Sierra Leone.
Haja After receiving surgery, Haja spread the news to her community that there is treatment for those living with fistula.
Mattu Mattu celebrates her successful fistula repair surgery.
Precious Precious made her way from Liberia to Mercy Ships to receive a fistula repair surgery.
Ramatou After a successful fistula repair surgery, Ramatou offered her services as a translator for patients with Mercy Ships.
Binta After living with fistula for eight years, Binta received surgery and went home dry to her family, friends and community.
Kadiatu Kadiatu, a former fistula patient, gave birth to a healthy baby boy.
Hanah Hannah was excited to share the news that she had been healed.
Zainab Until a health worker came to her village, Zainab thought she was the only one living with fistula.
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Photo of Halima's Class Halima made an extraordinary journey from fistula survivor to midwife in Darfur, Sudan.
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Christina After living with fistula for 10 years, Christina received a successful repair surgery, as well as family planning counseling. Later, Christina delivered her first child by cesarean section.
Fausa Fausta went to four hospitals over the course of nearly 20 years in search of a successful fistula repair surgery.
Doreen Doreen dreams of having her fistula fully cured so that she can return to her village and finish school.
Photo of Airati It was only when the oldest of her five children was 17 that Airati had surgery to heal her leaking.
Photo of Jane Jane developed fistula after laboring for five hours in a public hospital without receiving any medical attention.
Photo of Edisa Edisa lost her parents, grandmother, husband, and baby, enduring searing leg pain and leaking urine until her fistula was completely healed.
Photo of Federesi In 2007, the ACQUIRE Project and the Center for Digital Storytelling brought together fistula survivors to record their stories in their own words. Hear Federesi tell her story though song, pictures, and narration, along with many others, in the Digital Stories.
Photo of Sifa One of the women who shares her journey in the Digital Stories is Sifa, profiled here in the EngenderHealth 2007 annual report; (PDF, 637KB)
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More stories from fistula survivors are available from Uganda (PDF, 138KB).

Also, read this USAID success story about Elizabeth’s obstetric fistula repair in Nigeria (PDF, 45KB).