For years, 55 year-old Nankin Sampei from Kilgoris, in Kenya’s Rift Valley province had enjoyed a relatively stable marriage. It was a marriage that had been blessed with seven children, and in a culture that revers large families – the traditional Maasai family, Nankin was a happy woman.
The livestock farmer was even more elated when she conceived her eighth child. She knew the pregnancy, labor and birth would all go well –just as had happened seven times before, and she would be able to resume her normal duties and chores in the homestead.
Only that this time round, things did not go as expected. Nankin developed complications during labor which saw her deliver her baby through a caesarean section. But things would even turn more awry for her, for it was because of this surgery that she developed a fistula, which left her with unable to control her urine.
The bad news did not end there. The marriage which she had enjoyed with her husband broke down. This was after her husband deserted her following her inability to control urine, which would leave her with a permanent foul smell. She was left to fend for all her eight children. That was seven years ago.
On her own, she was left unable to educate her children as she cannot afford the related costs. She is also uneducated. Aside from that, two of her children are now deceased.
Nankiu has never been able to afford the luxuries of wearing nappies or diapers to contain her urine flow.
“I stay in the homestead most of the time. I only have to keep changing my clothes. This however has its own challenges because I cannot afford to keep washing my clothes all the time because access to water is a problem in the area I live in. Water is a treasured and scarce resource. My children and I have to use our water sparingly, so many times I have to stay with urine-soaked clothing all day long,” she says.
However, all that changed in September 2015 when a neighbor informed her about free treatment for women who leaked urine such as her. She then made her way to Kisii Level 5 Hospital where she underwent a successful VVF.
“I am happy, excited at being made whole again. It is a treatment that I could never have afforded, no matter how many years or decades I would have tried to save. I thank all those people who have made this possible for me. I will now be able to get out of the homestead and start looking for new business opportunities that will enable me send my children to school,” she says.
Nankiu is one of the 73 women who underwent successful fistula repair surgery at the Kisii Level 5 Hospital during the free fistula medical camp. She was one of the 31 women whose vesico-vaginal fistulas were repaired by a qualified team of doctors from Kenya. The camp was sponsored by the Freedom from Fistula Foundation (FFF) and the Flying Doctors Society of Africa (FDSA) in collaboration with the Royal Media Services and the Kisii Level 5 Hospital.