Friday, May 18, 2012


Imagine with me. A young girl just barely in her teens is starting to dream. However, her future is already planned out before she knows the possibilities. Her mother takes her to see the Sowei in the village. She goes through a painful procedure that makes her less of a female in the eyes of the world. Her tribe calls it tradition, we call it mutilation. Just about the time her body starts to change, those awkward years known as puberty, she is given in marriage. Her father finds a man her senior that is willing to pay the bridal price of 20 liters of palm oil, 40 kola nuts and Le 40,000- about ten dollars.

Soon after the arranged marriage she gets pregnant. She wasn’t even done growing herself, now she has to endure nine months of her belly growing bigger. She continues to cook, clean, and live along with other wives and children of her husband. Still she has no family until she has her own child. The labor pains come at night and she is alone. She is scared, no one has told her it would hurt like this. Terrified, she tries to breath through the contractions, the pressure is felt below, but nothing comes. Hours turn into days, and she eventually passes out from exhaustion. Finally she ends up at a hospital for a caesarean section- the cost to save her life, but it is usually too late for the baby. The next day, she is required to leave the hospital. She gets up from her bed, but something is wrong. There is fluid running down her leg and there is no way to stop it. The fluid is foul smelling and it follows her all the way home, the flies follow as well.  

The young woman arrives in her town with no one to celebrate what is meant to be a joyous occasion. She buries her stillborn baby and returns home to a husband that most likely will leave her in the coming days. She sits on a bench and realizes the puddle beneath her is not water, but urine. She lies on the floor instead of the bed, afraid of ruining the sheets. She does not eat, drink, or even move her body- anything to prevent her from leaking. Hiding from the judgment, shame keeps her inside and away from people. She rather die, than be like this. However, someone finds her- a mother, a sister, a friend or even a stranger- someone that knows she can get help.

She arrives at the centre. Her eyes downcast, but taking in all the sights- women making crafts, weaving each others hair, even singing and dancing. The common stench that has followed her all these days, months, and years- is here too. No one seems to notice that she smells like everyone else. A nurse holds her hand as she asks questions about the baby she lost. A doctor tells her there is a hole between her bladder and birth canal that can be fixed. The fistula will be closed and she will no longer leak urine. There is hope for the first time. It is hard for her to imagine…

There is no need to imagine because for each lady that walks through the gates at Aberdeen Women’s Centre suffering from a vesico-vaginal fistula this is reality. 


sara said...


Natalie said...

Wow. Wow. Wow. Powerful. I am an RN traveling to Guinea Dec 2012-Feb 2013 for my 1st trip with Mercy Ships. I love reading the blogs and hearing what God is doing in Africa. Can't wait to get there! Keep up the good work. p.s. Let me know if you have any tips for a first-timer :)

Anonymous said...

allison, this is so beautifully written!! love, love, love it! and SO touching! this is by far my favorite post that you've written thus far. :) keep up the good work, furthering HIS kingdom! you are an inspiration, my friend!! God is using you in tremendous ways. love you, hannah


The views expressed here are solely mine and are not the opinion of AWC/Mercy Ships.