Mabinti turns 11: Meet Hilda

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Learn how Hilda has stayed a part of the CCBRT community since graduating from Mabinti

The Mabinti Centre turns 11 this week. Since opening in 2007, the training centre has empowered more than 100 women for “life after fistula.” Through courses in sewing, screen-printing, beading, design, English and business, Mabinti graduates gain the knowledge and skills to earn their own incomes and build healthier, brighter futures. In honour of Mabinti’s anniversary, meet Hilda.

After giving birth to her first son, Hilda could not control her bowels – one of the most common and devastating symptoms of obstetric fistula. Hilda’s uncle worked in a military hospital, where she sought treatment. But less than a year after the surgery, Hilda was attacked and her healing progress reversed. "I was torn apart," she said. Living with her condition, Hilda moved in with relatives and tried to start afresh.

13 years later, Hilda delivered another healthy baby boy. During labour, a nurse recognised her improperly healed fistula and referred her to CCBRT. A few weeks later she met with Dr Eric at CCBRT, and after her successful operation, provided free of charge, she recovered at the hospital. "I was so happy to spend time with the other women here. Before this, I thought and felt I was alone."

Soon after being discharged, Hilda received a phone call from Mama Millinga, CCBRT's Holistic Care Coordinator, inviting her to join the Mabinti Centre's arts and entrepreneurship training programme. Her worry of affording the apprenticeship was short-lived when she was assured that her training, transportation and meals would be subsidised. "I learned how to use the sewing and screen-printing machines. Now I can make handbags, purses, bags, pillowcases, toys and my favourite: backpacks." Hilda graduated in 2015.

Last week Hilda returned to CCBRT as a fistula ambassador – one of thousands of individuals across Tanzania trained by CCBRT to identify and refer women with fistula to treatment services. Speaking with women in the fistula ward, she discussed her training at Mabinti and her experience as an ambassador, and encouraged the women to make use of the resources available to them for “life after fistula.” Hilda and her son joined the patients for Mama Millinga’s therapy session and lessons of the day. Hilda became a CCBRT fistula ambassador because she was empowered by Mama Millinga’s holistic approach to fistula recovery and her Mabinti training. She continues to fight fistula stigma in her community and empower women with fistula to seek treatment.

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Hilda with her son when she came to CCBRT last week
Hilda joining the fistula patients for Mama Millinga’s therapy session and lessons of the day
Hilda and her son with the fistula patients