Another Dragon Pushing Women to Depression

Millicent Adhiambo Joash
Posted September 21, 2020 from Kenya

It is the pride of every woman to bring forth a new life in this world. When a young african woman gets married, in most cases, her prayer and that of the family is to get a baby of her own. When the baby comes, the whole family celebrates the arrival of the new member. The reverse is also true. When a baby is not forthcoming, in some cases, the woman suffers serious rejection from the whole family even if she is not the reason. It is counted as a blessing to marriage when the first baby arrives and the woman gains her new status of motherhood.

 It is therefore normal that every woman who gets their first born child should celebrate but, this is not true in all cases. Some of these "first births" have left women, especially the rural women with scars that have slowly pushed them into depression.  Lack of proper infrastructure and poverty in rural areas of Kenya has really made many women suffer in silence. Such women deliver their babies at home in the hands of either traditional birth attendants or in experienced assistants and they end with unrepaired tear in their birth canal. The hospitals were either too far to reach, too expensive to afford or there were no means of transport to reach the hospital due to lack of good roads. The women get poor attention at their time of delivery and this leaves them with permanent  marks, as some of them end up with leaking urine, others leaking stool while others both stool and urine, a condition known as Fistula. Since these women are first timers, they tend to imagine it is normal for one to go through this after giving birth, because they are never informed by their Traditional Birth Attendants of what has happened. By the time they get to realize that they have a problem, it is already very late.  They find it difficult to open up and ask for help. They withdraw into themselves and suffer quietly. Most of these women are abandoned by their husbands because of the constant smell of urine or stool or both. They are looked upon as cursed or bewitched. They suffer rejection, loneliness and even depression. Some are sent away from their marital homes and live lonely lives elsewhere. They cannot even do any income generating activity to earn a living because people do not want to relate or mingle with them due to their foul smell.

I came across Jane ( not her real name), who was living in small lonely house in the middle of a maize farm. She was now in her early fifties and yet she looked like she was in her eighties. This woman suffered rejection from her husband's family and her own family after the delivery of her first child. She got Fistula and could not control her bowels and so had leakage of stool and loose breaks in the urinary tract. Her people rejected her and they could only give her little support but from a distance. Jane was very tired of life because a part from her little farm where she grew some crops for food, she couldn't do any other income generating activity because of her situation. She lived a lonely life and looked older than her age. She wished she were dead but death also had rejected her. These were her words. 

When I met Jane, I was doing voter education campaign where we went door to door. That is when I came across her home. The road to Jane's home was invisible and we went through thick grass to reach her house. She was very shocked to see us. Two days later, I went back to her and sought audience with her and she narrated to me her painful story and experience. She knew her situation was irriversible because all the remedies she has tried had failed. I felt sad and it took a lot of talking to convince Jane that it is possible for her to get help and gain back her dignity. I immediately embarked on the road to seek help for her and I got a place where Jane was attended to  freely. She paid nothing and Jane was very grateful to get help and is now a very happy woman.  She finds it hard to forgive her people who rejected her at her time of need. She has started a small business where she sells grocery and now mingles with people but with a lot of caution. She still has a problem trusting people and though she goes to church she sits at the back bench. She now has control of her bowels  but has difficulty getting back to her normal life.

 The pain was deeply entrenched  It is taking Jane time to heal and because she is in the hands of specialists, I know she will finally find her emotional freedom. This is also very important for her complete healing.  The smile on Jane's face is one of the greatest reward I have ever received!

I wonder how many women suffer in silence. Let us reach out and help. If you are Kenya and you need help for someone, reach out. Otherwise, this "dragon will silently pull some women in our midst into depressed. 

Thank you.


This story was submitted in response to From Poetry to Paintings .

Comments 4

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Sep 21
Sep 21

Hello Millicient,
I hope you are doing well. Thank you for writing this and bringing attention to a silent burden many women deal with daily, FISTULA.
It is especially prevalent to women who married and had their kids young. I am glad you were able to help Jane and I pray the ripple effect of this help can be felt by all those who come to know her.
Sometimes, it takes just one simple, yet thougtful act to restore our joy.
I pray she will one day experience complete emotional healing. I am especially glad that she's now able to do a little petty trading.
May God bless you and may the Janes of this world get their breaks someday too.

Nini Mappo
Sep 22
Sep 22

Hello Millicent,
Good on you for being kind and caring to Jane. It is heart-breaking how many women experience injury during birth, and suffer silently because of lack of information. Thank you for bringing hope to Jane. I hope that many suffering in silence like her will be found by kind, compassionate women, and be a channel for healing both body and mind.

J Brenda Lanyero
Sep 22
Sep 22

Thank you for sharing. I pray one day it will be history.

Hello, Millicent,

You have narrated the troubles women face. Oh, isn't it delicate enough for a woman to be pregnant and give birth? How tragic it is that there is lack of medical facilities to support her childbearing. That's why it is said a woman giving birth has one foot in death, another foot in life. It's a 50/50 chance of living.

It breaks my heart to know that Jane's story is not an isolated case. How strong you are African women to endure different hardships. Even a woman with all her needs provided would experience postpartum depression, how much more if a woman likes Jane who got Fistula and was rejected by her people?

Thank you for skillfully writing this to spread awareness! Please hug Jane for us. Please tell her we love her and we admire her strength.