Agatha Jane is a 55-year-old widow and mother to eight children, though five of them have not survived. She has lived with obstetric fistula, a hole in the birth canal often due to prolonged or obstructed labour, for close to 30 years.
Agatha’s life was never the same again after she was left with an obstetric fistula after her eighth pregnancy. Due to the leaking urine, she could no longer attend public gatherings or even visit people’s homes because people would gossip about her and look down on her.
Her fish business in the market crumbled as she could no longer ride her bicycle to collect fish for sale. She ended up staying indoors and practicing small scale farming to care for her and her family.
Things began to improve for Agatha when a community health volunteer approached her and advised her to attend a medical camp held by Amref Health Africa at the Siaya Referral Hospital in Siaya County, Kenya. At first, she was reluctant but after talking to the community health volunteer and learning more about obstetric fistula and the treatments available, Agatha agreed to attend the medical camp. After being screened by a specialist, Agatha was booked for free surgery at the hospital, and when being discharged she received a gift hamper that included items that she would need to ensure proper hygiene standards were followed during her recovery.
“Waking up in a dry bed was such an overwhelming moment in my life,” says Agatha.
She can now actively engage in public functions and is planning to revive her fish business. Agatha looks forward to encouraging other women in her community to visit Amref Health Africa medical screening camps whenever they are held in order to have their health status checked and get the health care they need free of charge.
The medical camp was part of the four-year Canada-Africa Initiative to Address Maternal, Newborn and Child Mortality, a partnership among four Canadian organizations – Amref Health Africa, Christian Children’s Fund of Canada, Centre for Global Child Health at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and WaterAid Canada – with support of $24.9 million from the Government of Canada.