Freedom From Fistula | obstetric fistula caused by obstructed childbirth

Patient Stories: Alifonsina


Alifonsina is 22, married and from Khwathali village in the Dowa district of Malawi.

Alifonsina married at 17, marrying young as felt school was not for her due to her poor grades. She wanted to marry her long time boyfriend, who she loved very dearly. Alifonsina lived with fistula for 3 years before coming to the centre to be treated.

When Alifonsina went into labor with her first child she was rushed to the nearby hospital as she was having difficulties delivering. The doctors decided to operate, but sadly she had already lost her baby. After waking up from her operation, Alifonisia noticed her bedding was wet and she was leaking urine.

Alifonsina was discharged from hospital and told to return once recovered from her operation. Alifonsina returned to the hospital where she was referred to the central hospital in Lilongwe for treatment.

It took a few months for her to come to the central hospital as she had to source money for transport, and in 2020 she arrived and was once again referred to our Fistula Care Centre. Unfortunately the center was closed due to the Covid pandemic.

In 2023 Alifonsina heard the center was open over the radio and returned to us hopeful we could help. In April 2023 Alifonsina was successfully operated on and fistula free.

While waiting for surgery Alifonsina’s husband and her family were supportive. Alifonsina had low self-esteem and lacked confidence due to her condition. She was ashamed and embarrassed and very lonely as she was not able to attend any village gatherings due to her leaking.

Since being cured Alifonsina feels at peace as she is able to attend community functions and is back attending the church services she had so desperately missed. She is now waking up to a dry bed and does not stress about having to wash her bedding every day. She is also back to interacting with her family and friends, and feels she is part of the community again. She tells us she is happy.

While at the centre, Alifonsina enjoyed the activities we provided, her favorites were the cooking demonstration classes and sewing classes.

In August 2023, Alifonsina was invited to undergo tailoring training, where she received a sewing machine and materials for her tailoring business, funded by Rotary club of Lilongwe-Lingadzi.

On 26 January 2024, the fistula team paid a visit to Alifonsina to follow up on her progress. To date, Alifonsina has made MK 187,800 of which MK 29,000 is from selling the reusable sanitary pad she makes and the rest is from sewing clothes and bags to the people in her village. She used MK 41,200 to purchase materials for her tailoring shop and bought 2 bags of maize worth MK 72,000 as food for her family.  She also bought a bale of tobacco worth MK 60,000, which she wants to resell at a profit and save the money. The rest of the money she has saved in the village bank.  Alifonsina has Mk 9,000 at hand for the month of January.

Currently business is slow due to the farming season. Most of her customers do not have money as they have to invest in their farming activities and food for their family. They have to be careful how they spend their money. As for Alifonsina, she is also busy working on her farm as she only runs her tailoring business during the weekends.

Alifonsina and her husband have planted various crops this farming season such as Irish potatoes, tobacco, maize and groundnuts. Some off the money to buy seed came from her sewing business. Alifonsina has also taught her husband how to operate the sewing machine and he helps from time to time.

Alifonsina plans to buy another sewing machine, which her husband will operate at the market. The money they make from these businesses they plan to use to build a house and buy livestock.


I am very grateful to the Fistula Care Centre team for curing me from fistula.  I would also like to thank Rotary club of Lilongwe-Lingadzi for selecting me to be one of the beneficiary of the tailoring project.  I received the sewing machine in a timely manner as I had no clue how I was going to make money to feed my family as this time of the year it is always challenging due to the lack of access to food and food is also very expense.  Right now my family has food because of the tailoring business.  I’m very grateful you have transformed my life, I’m not the same woman I was before and I’m looking forward to a bright future.  Thank you for taking care of me.  God bless you. THANK YOU.