Rachel's story of heartbreak and humiliation
For over 30 years, Rachel has lived with fistula, a devastating condition that causes her to leak urine and faeces uncontrollably. Living in a poor rural area of Tanzania, East Africa, unable to afford treatment, she would try to use leaves to stop the leaking.
In 1981, Rachel gave birth in her local clinic with no specialist care. The baby survived, but during the prolonged birth, the pressure of the baby’s head caused a fistula, a small hole in the tissue between Rachel’s bladder and bowel.
“I couldn’t control myself and would end up going to the toilet in front of people. During the first year, I thought this was normal.
Eventually I was able to go to a hospital in 1984 and they recognised it was a major problem. But they told me I would have to be referred to a hospital that was a long way away and I could not afford to go.
I smelled and this became our way of life.
We lived like this and we had four more children. We would keep trying for a child and as soon as I would become pregnant, we would stop. All of this time I could not control my bladder or my bowels.
Eventually my husband realised our lives were always going to be this way and he left me. I have raised six children alone since then. It was extremely difficult and we were very poor. I tried to use leaves to stop the leaking.
I tried some local medicines that I could afford, but nothing worked. I couldn’t go out into the community. I used to stay alone. I had to rely on my children, and
we struggled to earn a living.”
During prolonged labour, the pressure of the baby’s head can cause a hole, or fistula between the birth canal, bladder and bowel, causing incontinence.
3,000 women and girls are affected by fistula in Tanzania every year.
30 minutes - average surgery time needed to delicately repair a fistula.
3 weeks - average hospital stay of a woman being treated.
Fistula has a devastating impact on lives. Many women with the condition are unable to work and are often rejected by their husbands, their communities, even their families. And yet almost all women can be treated successfully with the right medical care.
And the numbers are staggering. One million women worldwide are currently living in this way, suffering from this heart breaking, but treatable condition.
Could you help release a woman like Rachel from this humiliation and loneliness?
We want to reach all the women like Rachel, who are hidden away, ashamed and rejected. Your donation today can offer a woman like Rachel a loving hand out of loneliness, humiliation and disability.
Yes, I’d like to free a woman like Rachel from humiliation with a gift of...
I could hardly hold back the tears as she told me her story...
Our Director of Philanthropy, Harriet Millward met Rachel at one of our partner hospitals. . . As someone who had experienced birth complications herself, she felt a particular connection with Rachel.
“I could hardly hold back the tears as Rachel told me her story...
Even if you haven’t experienced miscarriage or birth complications as I have, I’m sure someone dear to you has shared with you at least a little bit of how frightening, painful and deeply sad it can be.
I’m writing to ask you to help release just one woman from this nightmare of humiliation and shame. Your kindness today could reach a woman like Rachel.
As I listened to Rachel telling me her story my heart was breaking. But the moment I will never forget is when she asked to kneel down in front of me. Can you imagine someone kneeling in front of you? I could hardly hold back the tears.
On her knees, she pleaded... “Please help us. People like me, they can’t get anywhere. They don’t have hope. I ask you from deep into my heart to please continue this work and thank you so much.”
Your compassionate gift will reflect the incredible love of Jesus, who freed a woman from her sickness and humiliation...
As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped... Then he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace’ – Luke 8:42-44; 48