Asnakech, is from northern part of Ethiopia. She was married thirty years ago. When she was struggling to deliver her first child, her labor got prolonged and she developed fistula. She was passing urine and fesses, the husband brought her to her parent’s house.
She had a chance of having the first surgery at Hamlin Hospital, but her problem was complicated. She needed more surgeries to get healed. She went back to her village after her first surgery. She was passing urine. Nobody treated her well except her father. She was the first born to her families. All her younger siblings got married and left the family farm.
“When my siblings come to visit my parents, I had to serve them and wash their feet one by one. Fistula stigmatizes me like this. I washed my younger sibling’s feet for years.” said Asnakech at her informal school graduation.
As I saw her, she is a very bright woman. Recently, she had another surgery and she is completely healed. She wrote a poem for her two doctors who did her surgery thirty years ago (Dr. Hamlin/Australian/she calls him Dad/) and Dr. Fekade /Ethiopian/ who did the last surgery. She was wordless to thank both of them.
“Because of fistula my mother and my brothers and sisters hate me. Now, I’m healed. They were thinking I’ll never be a healthy woman again.” Said Asnakech in the middle of her speech.
May be in the other part of the world, fistula has been a forgotten issue, but a lot of women are suffering from it in Africa and Asia.
Part of the informal education, they take two weeks course about business. Hamlin Rehabilitation Center gives the women seed money when they go back to their villages. When they were asked about the difference between loan and grant and which is better for them, she said:
“I like the loan better than the grant. I work hard to pay the loan back, that makes anybody a hard worker without her knowledge. The grant can make somebody lazy, I’m afraid.”
She has some sheep, and try few other business. If one of the business fails, she has plan B. She is doing this without any education. Her trainers learned from Asnakech. She can’t read or write, she was saying the poem and her friend was writing it for Asnakech.
Asnakech lives in Gondar. She is an awesome woman who can be a great example to many of us. We complain for not having this and that, but our sisters are suffering from fistula.
I want to ask every woman to support her sister in the other part of the world to end fistula and its stigma NOW.