Jennifer is currently practicing her crochet, which she has learnt as part of the holistic care programme at CCBRT. She was 13 years old when she developed obstetric fistula. It was her first pregnancy, so when contractions started she didn’t understand that the pain was a sign of her going into labour. It wasn’t until she started to bleed that Jennifer tried to wake her stepmother for help. “I was so worried, I tried to wake up my mother but she refused to help me.” Early the next morning, a local fisherman found Jennifer lying outside on the ground. He called a neighbour for help. They were able to save Jennifer, but tragically her baby had already passed away.
Jennifer soon realized that she was constantly leaking urine. She wanted to seek help from a doctor, but her stepmother wouldn’t allow it. “I couldn’t attend the clinic because my stepmother destroyed my clinic card. Whenever I went to ask for another one the nurses chased me away. I lived with fistula for over 25 years because my family refused to help me.”
Jennifer was devastated. Her husband left her and almost the whole community knew her problem and didn’t want to be associated with her. But after decades of isolation, Jennifer finally heard something that would restore her hope.
“Very recently I heard an announcement on the radio. It said that the problem I am facing is treatable and I called the number and spoke to CCBRT. The following afternoon CCBRT’s ambassador came to my house with a bus ticket.” The CCBRT Ambassador helping Jennifer had received money to cover her transport costs to Dar es Salaam from CCBRT via Vodafone M-PESA. This meant that Jennifer did not need to struggle to find the money for her journey herself, and that she received support from a trained ambassador as she began her daunting journey. “The ambassador escorted me to the bus stand as I began my first journey to Dar es Salaam. It is the first time I had travelled far away from home. Now I am at CCBRT receiving treatment thanks to CCBRT and its partners. I really suffered with this condition and now I am slowly getting dry. The doctor has told me that I will be well enough to go home soon. God bless you.”
*Name changed to protect patient privacy