Khadra Ibrahim Ahmed can see a new future opening up in front of her after a successful operation at Borame hospital in Somaliland this month to repair the obstetric fistula that has marred the last 14 years of her life.
“Whenever I visited my relatives in their houses I was not allowed to sleep in their beds, I couldn’t ride in public vehicles, or go to weddings or other public gatherings. I was under house arrest! I couldn’t mix with other people, and my husband even left me because of it. People would only call me on my phone but nobody wanted to stand close to me,” said Khadra, 40, who lives in Bosaso.
A prolonged labour during her last pregnancy, which resulted in the death of her baby, caused the damage that meant Khadra was unable to control her urine and faeces.
She went to different hospitals with support from her husband in Addis Ababa, Mogadishu, and Bosaso. None of the treatments worked and in 2012, when her husband left her, she resigned herself to a life of hopelessness.
Recently, Khadra heard from a friend about the free treatment provided at Borama hospital by the Fistula Foundation. She immediately contacted the hospital and became one of 105 women to receive surgery this month.
“I have spent all my money trying to find doctors. When my money ran out I got handouts from my relatives. My mother sent me $40 a month to buy diapers and clothing,” Khadra said. “Now I am recovering and when the doctors discharge me the first thing I hope to do is to get back my life and start up a business.”
Dr Nasra Ibrahim Sa’id, who conducted the surgery, said most women affected have suffered prolonged obstructed labour.
“The services given to the women including hospitalisation, food, medication, surgery and other extra treatment are all free. Sometimes the women bring others with them and we also treat them,” said Dr Nasra.
Women are encouraged to come to the hospital to benefit from the free services. The hospital is supported by Fistula Foundation, World Vision, and Somaliland’s Ministry of Health.