Wearing the green work uniform together with the rest of the Dabat production center women team, Mary (the name has been changed), a mother of one, looks all smiling and proud.
Though the scene is so dazzling, Mary’s journey to this center was far from easy. In delight over her flourishing attempt at becoming a changed person, Mary recalls her troubled journey to get here.
Forcibly married to her father’s best friend’s son at the tender age of fourteen, Mary’s life took a sudden down-turn after her first pregnancy labor. She had to spend three gruesome days in labor at home before going to the nearby health center; could not tolerate the labor pain anymore and started to feel very lethargic and weak. The health center then referred her to a hospital where she had to give birth to a still-born baby.
‘After 2 days in the hospital, I sensed that I was leaking urine. I did not know what to make of it…The hospital sent me home after advising me to go to Gondar University hospital if I continued leaking urine after a few days.’
‘When my husband saw I had become incontinent, he kicked me out of our home…. I returned to my parent’s house.’
Although Mary told her parents to take her to Gondar University hospital, they ignored her request and told her to stay put in the house. Her parent’s believed such types of disorders will cannot be treated with modern medicine, rather by traditional healers or with the holly water. They had taken her to countless traditional healers and places where holy water is said to exist. However, there was no improvement in her condition.
“On a fortunate day, while I was taken to a place to get holy water, the priest asked my father about my condition. The priest explained to my father that he had a girl with a similar case and had received treatment at Gondar fistula center and was cured just recently. He suggested that he should take me as well.”
It was on March 2014 that Mary came to WAHA’s Gondar fistula center.
‘I saw women coming from different places but with similar case like mine. There I realised I was not alone, I wasn’t possessed by the devil and my problem was not a curse….it can be cured.’
After a month of admission at the fistula center, Mary received the care and treatment by one of WAHA’s senior fistula surgeons. As the weeks passed by, Mary’s situation progressed quickly. She was cured.
Mary was one of the women who had the chance to get into the re-integration program as part of WAHA’s holistic care strategy. She was selected because of her debilitating social and economical status as a result of obstetric fistula. She was kicked out of her own house, had to hide inside her parent’s house and was deprived of her right to seek treatment as a result of socio-cultural misbeliefs in the community.
‘Once, I was hiding inside my parent’s house because I smelled bad and no one wanted to get near me, but now I am cured. It is such a blessing to see this day. I wondered what I would do with my life then, I had no money, I depended on parents; how could I do anything for my son…..Thanks to WAHA, I was one of the women who joined the re-integration program, now my future is brighter than ever…’
After 3 months of skill training, Mary graduated. Currently, she is working by creating traditional scarves magnificently.
‘Now I am very happy, healthy and working hard. My plan for the future is educating my single son by generating income.’
‘I would like to thank WAHA and the doctors who are committed to save the lives of women. Thank you very much.’