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Freed from Silence

Rahab Shire, a Garissa County resident sheds joyful tears when she recalls the rough terrain, she has walked through for the last two years.

Rahab, a mother of one, describes her last two years as hell on earth. “For the last two years I would not leave the house and engage in communal activities,” says Rahab.

Rahab says she thought her fate had been sealed. She never believed a day would come and win her freedom of movement and interaction back. She felt short-changed. She had done nothing with her life when fistula struck her.

“I was married off in my teenage hood. Going with our culture, this was normal. Most girls get married off earlier. Girls are equated with wealth,” says Rahab 20.

“I conceived and when the time to deliver came I went to the hospital, and I was happy to get a gift of a baby girl,” narrates Rahab.

But her joy was short-lived as it was in her first month, she realized all was not well. “I had an issue with controlling urine and even long calls. I would reek of urine. People would avoid me like plague,” she says adding this gave her husband a license to divorce her.

“He didn’t understand that it was not my fault. A fistula is like an accident that can happen to anyone,” she points out.

She adds that some people thought she was cursed and that’s why she was leaking feces and urine, hence avoiding her.

“I had a difficult time. I would stay indoors, and I wouldn’t attend events. Apart from close relatives’ other people would avoid me,” she explains.

Although the withdrawal methods would work for her, she points out its not dependable as there would come a time circumstance that would force her to be in people. “No man is an island. You can avoid people sometimes but not at all times,” she remarks.

For now, Rahab’s story has taken a new twist after attending a fistula camp held by the Flying

Doctors Society of Kenya in collaboration with the Safaricom Foundation and the Royal Media


“I heard about fistula camp through a health community volunteer who used to visit us. At first, I thought they would charge us, and I was worried because I was not sure I would manage to raise the required amount of money,” she says.

“I visited the camp where I was treated and now am well. I am grateful for this team for they have restored my life,” she says.

Rahab encourages women suffering from fistula not to fear to speak out and look for help. “I would like to encourage women to be their sisters’ keepers. We need to check on each other to live a healthy life,” she says.

Way forward….

“I am grateful. I will be able to hold hands with other women in development-oriented activities,” she says.

While fistula is rarely life-threatening, it can decrease a person’s quality of life. Women and girls with fistula are often unable to work, and many are abandoned by husbands and families and ostracized by their communities, driving them further into poverty vulnerability and decreasing their quality of life.

According to research by the World Health Organization, WHO, most women with obstetric fistula lose their source of income due to their incontinence and become an economic burden to their families. This pushes them to poverty, leaving them in bitterness, trauma, and depression and suffering disappointment.

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