Empower

Liberia fistula Teeta-large

Teeta (first from left) in one of the training sessions at the Fistula Rehabilitation and Reintegration Center in Phebe, Bong County, Central Liberia.

A new life after fistula

Teeta, 28, lost all hope after living for 12 years with obstetric fistula; constantly mocked and rejected, she wanted to die. After receiving treatment, she now plans for the future.

Recalling the ordeals of fistula

 Teeta got pregnant for the first time in 2001. She was 16. Living in a remote village, she didn’t have access to ante-natal care, which could have helped prevent the ordeal she was about to experience.

When it was time for her to deliver, there was no professional midwife to assist her in the process. She recounts: “I went into labor in my village and, because I was unable to deliver the baby, I was taken to the nearby hospital in a hammock, a journey that took more than five hours. After two days I was transferred from this hospital to Phebe, central Liberia (about 125 km away) because they could not help me in the clinic. At Phebe hospital, I received the operation (C-section) to remove the baby, but he was already dead after six days of travel. This was how I developed this condition and started to leak urine all the time.”

Teeta remained hospitalized for more than a month as a result of paralysis of the lower limbs. According to her, the years that followed were even more agonizing than remaining in labor for six days.

“For the first three years, it was difficult for me to accept this condition, especially after losing my baby.” Her friends and family members started to see her as unworthy of their company.

Things got a bit better for Teeta when a man fell in love with her. “When my boyfriend proposed to me, I told him that I had fistula and he would have to live with the constant leaking of urine. He agreed. He is the reason why I am here today. Because of his love and care, we have two children, the first born in 2007 and the last one in 2009. I must say that I am blessed to have found a man who chose to love and keep me despite my condition.”

Teeta confessed though that, despite her partner’s love and care, she always craved for a normal life. “I was always embarrassed by my condition,” she said.

Looking toward the future

Teeta is happy now. “Since my operation last February, I don’t have to wake up countless times at night to change my wet clothing.”

After surgery, she started to attend the skills training and rehabilitation program offered to fistula survivors by the Liberia Fistula Project. Supported by the United Nations Population Funds and funded by Zonta International, the aim of the program is to teach income generating activities so former fistula patients can be financially independent when they go back to their communities.

Teeta will take soap-making and baking courses for the next three or four months. She also plans to complete her primary education through a special adult education program after she finishes the rehabilitation program.

Teeta learns to write her name at the Fistula Rehabilitation and Reintegration Center.

Teeta learns to write her name at the Fistula Rehabilitation and Reintegration Center.

Campaign to end fistula in Liberia

Teeta is one of the women and girls who have benefited from free fistula treatment and reintegration packages provided by the Liberia Fistula Project of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, funded by the UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund through partner organizations like Zonta International.

The program was launched in 2007 to prevent and treat obstetric fistula, as well as support the reintegration of survivors into their communities after treatment. So far, the program has treated 1,079 women and girls with a 90 percent success rate; 264 of the patients were rehabilitated and reintegrated into society.