Haja* is from a small village in Sierra Leone. Haja did not finish school, instead working in the household of her aunt, who is a trader.
At 19 years old, Haja became pregnant. When it was time to give birth, Haja went to a traditional birth attendant. Her labor was long and difficult. After three days without delivering, Haja’s family helped her into a hammock and carried her on foot for two and one-half miles to a hospital. There, she delivered her baby by cesarean section. The baby was stillborn.
Grieving, Haja realized that her bed was soaked because she was leaking urine. She was shocked and scared, and she hid her bedclothes so that her husband would not discover what was happening to her.
Haja lived with this humiliating condition until Haja’s uncle heard about the Aberdeen Women’s Centre, a Fistula Care partner that specializes in treating women with fistula. He told her family that the center could help with Haja’s problem, and Haja traveled to the center to receive treatment. There, she underwent surgery.
When the catheter was removed a few weeks later, Haja was dry. She returned to home to her family rejoicing, telling the women of her good news and spreading the message that there is hope for those suffering from fistula.
*This name has been changed to protect the privacy of the client.