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Agony of women living with fistula

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According to the Chairperson of Flying Doctors Society or Africa Eunice Kiereini (c) 3,000 new cases of fistula are reported each year in Kenya/FILE

According to the Chairperson of Flying Doctors Society or Africa Eunice Kiereini (c) 3,000 new cases of fistula are reported each year in Kenya/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 24 – “My mother told me not to tell anyone that I was leaking urine because they would find out that I had been raped.”

“What would they think? What would they say? I would be told that I had been bewitched or worse yet, that I was a girl without morals.”

Liz Ong’udi from Butere in Kakamega County has for the last 17 years battled with a condition that she knew nothing about; all she knows is that it started after she was raped at the tender age of 14 by unknown assailants.

Following the gruesome attack, Ong’udi became pregnant and coming from a society that looked down on early pregnancy; she did not receive antenatal attention as required.

Ong’udi was instead advised to stay home and until her delivery and she would later return to school and act like nothing happened.

“I gave birth to my first child and the pain was unbearable before, during and after but I was given some herbal medicine to ease the pain.”

“Three weeks after delivery I returned to school and noticed that I had a burning sensation in my vagina and I would pass urine without realising.”

“I started wearing cloths and cotton wool as I did when I had my period to absorb the leakage.”

“I could not tell anyone other than my mother who again took me to a herbalist who gave me some medicine. This went on for three years and at 17 years I got pregnant again.”

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“This time I was married and my husband did not know that I had a problem. As soon as I gave birth, things became worse, I started passing stool from my vagina and I could not control it.”

“The smell intensified as the years went on and after six years my husband and his family discovered that I had a problem and sent me away on allegations that I was bewitched,” she narrated to Capital FM News as tears rolled down her cheeks amid an intense gaze as she went down memory lane.

Ong’udi now stranded, without anyone to turn to came to Nairobi to look for a job. She soon landed a job in a factory but it was short-lived as her colleagues often complained about her pungent smell.

“I was sacked from my job due to the smell yet even I could not explain why this was happening to me. I got another job as a domestic worker where I stayed for six years. It was easier to maintain the condition as a house help as compared to when I was at the factory.”

READ First Lady urges support for women with fistula

“I worked for a very good woman who even though she noticed I had a very strong smell did not sack me. One day my madam asked me if I knew what fistula is and I told her I had not heard of it.”

“She explained it all to me and advised that I go to Kenyatta (National Hospital) and seek medical attention. At Kenyatta I met doctors who explained to me that what I was going through was not unique to me alone and they told me I could undergo an operation that would remedy the situation.”

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