Healthy and Happy Again
Rukia was in a painful labor, unable to deliver her baby for two days and finally pushed out baby girl but at huge cost.
Rukia Teyib, 18, lives in Lahelow, a small village in Gode Woreda of Shabelle zone, about 45 km away from Gode town. She is the second child of poor family of eight: the two parents and six children. At the age of eight, Rukia, like many girls at her age in the area, underwent most extreme form of female genital mutilation (FGM) which is excruciating procedure that take months to “heal” and life time to fully recover from. It took Rukia two months and half after the procedure to be able walk and ever since had difficulties in urinating and menstruation.
At the age of 16, (though below the legal age for marriage which is 18) her father married her off to his friend’s son for small dowry without her consultation. She again went through a painful wedding days. Shortly after marriage, Rukia became pregnant. Despite being pregnant, she never attended ante-natal care since there is no health facility in the area. Rukia began to labor at mid night at her home with help of traditional birth attendant but no trained nurse and continued to labor for two days but ended in vain. She was then taken on a three-wheel motorcycle (Bajaj) to nearest health post where she delivered a live girl with the assistance of nurse.
“The labor was painful and I thought I was dying; I could not eat or drink anything at all and was screaming all the time” humbly says Rukia remembering the suffering she endured.
While desperately hoping for recovery after deliver, she learned that her situation is mysterious: she could not control urine. She has developed fistula. A medical condition that causes the patient to lose control of urine and stool.
Despite her serious health condition, her family could not treat her for two reasons: her family’s inability to afford the treatment cost and her condition demand specialized treatment available only in Addis Ababa, the capital city of the country away for some 1,200 km. she moved to her mother’s house for comfort and care. Her condition kept worsening day after day for four months and languished in her mother’s house. Unable to control urine and stool, life was difficult for Rukia and was worried about her future assuming that that her illness is incurable and her future was in jeopardy.
Treating the patient
Despite efforts to hide the case by Rukia’s family, the news got to OWDA, NGO which is running reproductive health project with fund from NCA. Health care worker visited Rukia at her mother’s home and interviewed. Cognizant of the seriousness of the condition, OWDA persuaded her and her family to take her to Addis Ababa where the case can be treated and quickly arranged a flight to Addis ababa. She was admitted to Helmin Fistula Hospital – fistula specialist hospital with proven track record in fistula repair surgery. She underwent successful fistula repair surgery that lasted for six hours.
“I lost hope. I went through a physical and psychological pain. Fortunately, I regained my hope soon after my flight from Gode to Addis has taken off. It was the time that I realized my mystery would be solved Insha Allah. I regained my health and can lead now normal life” says Rukia
Rukia has fully recovered since repair surgery and reunited with her family with smile on her face.
The Reproductive Health Project provides critical support to reproductive age women in Gode and Ber,ano Woredas and Jigjiga area that aimed at prevention and eradication of harmful traditional practices including FGM. The project empowers women in the target area through education suport, life skill trainings and income generating activities.