Janet has a list of names, and it’s changing lives.
Janet is one of UVP’s Fistula Ambassadors. We recently saw her during our Fistula Ambassadors debrief. We hold these twice a year to have the Ambassadors share experiences and personally check in with them about their work. This time, Janet brought a list of five names of women she has identified who are suffering from fistula and on the waiting list for the next repair camp. We asked her how she feels about disseminating information about fistula, and Janet said she’s more than happy to help other women understand the causes of fistula and how it can be avoided. In fact, she’s so passionate about this work that she visits patients at every camp to provide encouragement and dances and sings to make their stay at the hospital more enjoyable.
It's been a long journey for Janet to get to this point. In 1975, Janet had an obstructed labor and needed to be seen by a doctor. The health center was far from her village, and given the bad roads and their transport via bicycle, it took a long time for Janet to reach the hospital. By the time she got there, her only option was a c-section, but the surgery was unsuccessful and Janet lost the baby and left the hospital with an obstetric fistula. She lived with the condition for 35 years. She tried traditional healers with hopes of getting better, but nothing worked and she was isolated from her community. In 2010, UVP’s Fistula Coordinator visited Janet and assured her she could be repaired and rejoin her community. After 35 years of living with fistula, she didn’t take him seriously and ignored the advice, but the idea stayed with her, and after talking with a friend she agreed to try the surgery since it was fully paid for. The surgery was successful and Janet was thrilled to bring back the good news to her family.
Four years after being healed from fistula and nearly 40 years after first living with the condition, Janet was trained as a Fistula Ambassador. Her list of names keeps growing. To date, Janet has identified more than ten women with fistula and encouraged them as they traveled for surgery. Thanks to her efforts, other women won’t have to wait as long to restart their lives.