Paula Tovrow holds a Phd, Msc, MALD and is the Director of UCLA’s Bixby Program in Population and Repoductive Health, and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Community Health Sciences Department at the UCLA Fielding SChool of Public Health in California USA. From 2009-2016, she served as Co-Director of the UC Global Health Institute’s center of Expertise in Women’s Health and Empowerment. In 1997-2001, Dr. Tavrow was the Deputy Reseach Director for the USAID- funded global Quality Assurance Project. She Oversaw eleven operation research. she has also worked as a contractor to USAID in Zaire (now DRC), Somalia, Tanzania and Malawi
Name : Caroline
Age : 44
Home area : Kakamega
No. of years: 7
Marital status: Separated
Meet a jovial Caroline, working at her assigned work station, at wadadia rehabilitation and reintegration center as a tailoring trainee, she is the storyteller of her group, the go to kind of woman, but she is quick to tell us that it was not always like that for her, having been rendered immobile by the terrible disease she later learnt was called ‘fistula’, right now she assures us that thanks to the rehabilitation, which involved being introduced to several other women who had suffered the same misfortune as hers, they formed a group where they share their experiences, fears and future plans, they go as far as exploring various ways to generate income, the counseling sessions have been her most glorious times. Over time she has learnt to let people in, she states that she made herself this one promise to be always happy, to celebrate her second chance at life, whenever she meets any woman suffering from the same predicament to re-assure them and support them through referral to WADADIA for help. No woman under any circumstance should live through what she had to live through. We question her further on her bio and this is what she lets out.
“I contracted fistula after a very long labor lasting over three days, during the birth of my last born in 2009 born at public hospital in bungoma, you know when you go to public hospitals due to lack of funds the nurses delay and don’t pay that much needed attention, I had carried the pregnancy for over eleven months which was not normal, my in-laws made fun of my miseries ,most alluded it to some mistake I must have done during my hey days that resulted in some kind of curse, My husband did very little to help the situation, the birth was horrific, the nurses inserted some metal and water inside me, it was very painful, it is bad enough to go through the difficult labor and worse to deal with the loss of a baby you looked forward so much to meet, after three days I discovered I was seriously leaking of urine uncontrollably, whether I was a sleep or walking and even when working in the farm and around the house. It became my second nightmare, People really can demean, they talked, some started laughing at me, My in-laws had nothing but mean things to say and they even suggested that my husband takes a second wife and rid himself of the shame I brought the family, being a drunkard, he always left very early and returned very late. I was left solely with the responsibility to fend for the entire family, he needed and wanted sex whenever and however he wanted it when came home, it was as if he was oblivious of my state, we together have ten kids, two passed on, he became worse with his drinking, he would disappear for weeks then reappear. At around December 2015 he disappeared never to reappear, we were just speculating and guessing, he could have remarried, he might be hurt or forever gone”.
“I am just glad I got the chance to meet WADADIA’S Rosalina (Wadadia’s Corp) who helped change my life. I was screened and referred to Cheranganyi Hospital in Kitale town where I was treated on 19/10/2016. The hospitality by the nurse was and the doctors worked on us, What this repairs are doing to women like me who can’t afford treatment is God sent”.
Like all school going girls Esther was coming from school at around on the fateful day of 27/1/2017,she was a form two student, Coming from a family of seven, four boys and three girls the school had the culture of studying extra hours in order to compete favorably with other schools in the area, What she didn’t expect is for her world to take a big turn for the worse, after parting with other students she saw not one but four men approach her and all she remembers is being dragged to the nearest bush, when she gained consciousness a woman is recognized as her mother’s friend was hovering around her calling her name, she phoned her mother and together they brought her home, she was in pain, she was all bloody and bruised. After being taken to the hospital it was very evident that she was gang raped. After several treatment it was revealed that she had contracted fistula and was constantly leaking urine due to the forceful tearing, a condition that was strange to the family, what had family done to experience such misfortune was unknown, The mother took the chance to consult with her aunt who luckily knew Madam Florence through the #Action On Fistula outreach that was conducted in the area sometimes back.
After screening which was done by Ms. Florence she was referred to Cheranganyi Hospital where she successfully underwent the reconstructive surgery.
The experience left the girl traumatized, afraid of the aftermath Esther decided to drop out of school she stayed at home for a while. Wadadia made two follow up assessments on her where she was encouraged to join a support group which she did and is now grateful she has learnt a lot and knows that she isn’t alone in the journey to recovering from Fistula, She is being hosted by Florence
She has embraced the Wadadia’s psychosocial counselling as an individual and in a group. Esther is a computer student at the organization’s computer skills center.” I am deeply grateful for the second chance at life and the inner peace of mind, it’s incredibly pleasing to know that there are men involved in helping women in the organization dubbed Male involvement I am happy knowing that not everyone is cruel, it is beautiful and moving that there are good people devoted to help other human beings, for now am just contented to acquire the computer skills I contemplate going back to school. I will be forever indebted to the Father of Wadadia the Fistula Foundation and the Wadadia family for their patience and love they are showing women.
Esther in yellow during a computer class session at Wadadia’s skills center
`Fistula Foundation with its trusted partner Astellas have and are touching and transforming the lives of thousands of women who are affected by Obstetric Fistula by giving them a second chance through free and life restoring surgeries, they are committed to ensuring that No Woman suffers from this devastating condition with the main believe that when women are healthy and productive the community and country benefits. Wadadia is implementing its strategies in Kenya under the programme #ActionOnFistula which the organization uses as an opportunity to mobilize communities, sensitize the masses, identifies fistula patients, refers the patients and use the opportunity to destigmatize the child birth injury. Throughout our outreaches we emphasize on the fact that #obstetricFistula is preventable and treatable.
Wadadia further ensures that #FistulaSurvivors go through Intensive counselling, psychosocial support group meetings and skills empowerment as part of their healing process to enable them reintegrate back to their communities.
Yesterday the fistula foundation together with the Astella team paid a visit at the Wadadia’s HQ in Mumias where they got the opportunity to grace our activities ranging from Community sensitization Outreach activity at Koyonzo market, Client home visitations, skills empowerment center tour well as brief session with fistula survivors support group and the Male involvement group.