Lemlem is from a community in rural Ethiopia and was married at a very young age. Still just a child, it was extremely difficult for her to assume so many household responsibilities. At only ten years old, the girl was expected to manage all house chores and be completely subservient to her husband. Shortly after her marriage, she was expected to bear and raise a child. This is very common in the community where Lemelem came from.
Lemlem had her first pregnancy at the age of twelve, after spending two years with her husband. Having immature body strength, she was in labor for four days at home and one day in a health centre and then had to be referred to a hospital for obstructed labor. As expected in many cases of obstructed labor, her birth was stillborn and she developed obstetric fistula.
Lack of awareness about obstetric fistula leads to misguided concepts about the condition and the women who are suffering from it. Those with obstetric fistula usually accept it as a curse and choose to hide behind closed doors away from society because of the shame it brings. ‘I stopped going outside. I was ashamed of what I had become and I used to believe that this disease was not treatable…‘.
Her family tried very hard to find a cure for her condition, but it was only after three horrible years that the idea of getting treatment appeared in Lemlem’s life. After returning to her mother’s house from the hospital, her father heard about the obstetric fistula treatment at Gondar fistula center and she was brought to the center and admitted after screening.
Lemlem expresses her feeling after the treatment she received at Gondar fistula center as follows;
‘There is no worse disease like fistula. Thanks to God who allowed me to see such blessed doctors who treated me and cured me from my sufferings. No word can describe what these people have done for me. I feel very happy….. Now I am improved, with hope of tomorrow. My future plan is to learn to help women in a similar way…’
Lemlem’s ambition and true inspiration to escape from economic dependence has made her one of the recruits in WAHA’s socio-reintegration program. She was given the opportunity to change her life and she took it instantly. Today Lemlem is one of the women who works inside Dabat production centre after graduating from the vocational training sponsored by WAHA.
Lemlem getting busy in the making of traditional scarves
Today, Lemlem is a different person. She is confident enough to plan for the future and she has renewed sense of self-worth.