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‘I was told cold air must have entered my birth canal during childbirth’

Jennifer Chepchirchir aged 26yrs hails from Sihendo Village, Trans Nzoia County. For Jennifer, the idea of being pregnant at the tender age of 17 years was not something that she ever anticipated. Being the First born in her family and from her community getting education as a girl child was a privilege. While still in Form 2, she saw her aspirations and her life coming to an end when she fell pregnant.

As the norm of the school for every girl discovered to be pregnant, suspension was imminent. She sort for guidance from her mother on the pregnancy and so she felt what she believed to have been labour pains but did not bother about it. She stayed home and the labour continued and lasted 7 days. While at home, she felt the urge and the pressure of the baby coming out and with all her strength she pushed the baby out delivering at home. The joy of looking at her baby boy overwhelmed her so much that she did not notice that she was damaged. Nobody had cautioned her on what to expect after delivery of her baby.

After a few days, she noticed that she could not control the gas that came through her birth canal. Being a teen mother, she decided to consult her mother and other elder women within her family for advice on what that could have been. Everyone gave her the same answer that it was a normal occurrence after birth; that the reason was that during the birth of her child, cold air must have entered her body through the birth canal and that, was the air coming out. She took their word as truth, after all, these women had been in that journey long before her, they therefore, knew better so she thought.

After several months, she vowed to herself that it was a matter of time and everything would go back to normal. Her urge to continue with her education led her to the decision to leave her child with her mother and go back to school to finish secondary school education. It was then, that she noticed that  all was not well, even after washing  herself, she noticed her under pant was not clean; stool was passing without her being able to control. Her body started having a stench and this lead her to lose her friends. She was eager and determined to get better. She sought for treatment from different clinics and all she was given was medicine that was meant to clear the smell. The medicine however didn’t help; she finally resorted to keeping to herself, finish her education.

After completing secondary school in 2014, she resulted to staying at home assisting in household and farming activities to avoid public interaction. She lost appetite of consuming food, with the mind-set that eating made the situation worse. During gatherings where it was mandatory for her to attend, she would attend but refrain from eating in order to remain clean. It was not until; the year 2019 that she saw an advertisement on Television for a fistula camp and recognized that the condition explained on the advertisement was what she was suffering from. She called the numbers provided but being miles away and with no job or income she could not afford to attend. She explained her predicament on phone and when she was told she will be facilitated with transport to attend the Nyeri Fistula Camp nothing could hold her.

Jennifer believes her life has been given back to her. Looking back at her child Daniel, now 8 years old, she is looking forward to normalcy to her life with no shame. She parts by saying “I thank Safaricom and The Flying Doctors Society for helping me, May God Bless you and may you continue doing the good work”

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