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My struggle with perineal fistula

African culture places a high value on marriage and having children. In most African cultures children are essential in maintaining one marriage and a broader social network with kinship.

A lot of married women who are not lucky enough to bear children of their own are in most cases divorced. They don’t get the respect they deserve in society.

This was the case with Faham Muhamed. Faham 27, got married for four years but she was not lucky to have a child of her own.

“I am a divorcee. I was married for four years but I wasn’t lucky to have a child” says Faham a

Garissa County resident.

Her lack of a child saw her husband flee leaving her at Kakuma Refugee Camp. “We are refugees leaving at Kakuma refugee camp,” she says.

Faham recalls that it was during her marriage that she realized she had another condition that stirred her marriage woes, perineal fistula.

What’s Perineal Fistula…

Perineal fistula is a malformation that involves a misplaced anal passage that is often narrowed.

This kind of malformation is generally present from birth. Its causes are not known, however,

Researchers say environmental factors such as drug use may play a role.

Children with the condition may exhibit this kind of symptoms; not passing stool on the first day after birth or two, passing stool through a misplaced position, swollen belly and missing or misplaced anus.

Seeking help…

“After two years of marriage I realized all was not well I decided to look for traditional and religious intervention but this didn’t work. It’s here I decided to visit a hospital for advice and I learnt that I have Perineal fistula,” she remarks.

The fact that she didn’t have cash saw her go back into the house and wait for the day that her God will send an angel to heal her.

“Treating this condition is too expensive for people without a stable income. I couldn’t afford it,” she speaks.

Faham notes that she had lost hope of getting treated until she saw a text message from

Safaricom invited her to a medical camp.

“All women are invited to attend this medical camp, where relevant health discussion on fistula will be done, and free treatment will be given to fistula patients. Tell a friend to invite a friend as we all work together to overcome fistula,” read the invitation text.

Faham notes that she was used to living with the condition. “Yes, it was affecting me, but I didn’t have an option,” she notes.

“I went for the treatment. Got diagnosed with perineal Fistula and I got treated,” says Faham happily.

Faham is grateful that she is back on her footing. She points out that the treatment by The Flying

Doctors Society, The Safaricom Foundation and The Royal Media Services as the best gifts she has ever received. “I will now be able to look for a job and at least live a life,” she states.

She observes that most women suffering from rare conditions such as fistula are belittled and despised by the community members. “There is a need for civic education among people in the village. The elderly and the ailing need to earn their respect. Despising the sick breaks, them hence making the situation worse,” she says.

Fahim says she will now go look for casual jobs and at least manage to feed herself as she gets clear on what she wants to do with her life.

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