Freedom From Fistula | obstetric fistula caused by obstructed childbirth

Patient Stories: Shamimu


Shamimu, now 22, lives in Tanga village in the Mangochi district of Malawi.

Married at the age of 15 after dropping out of primary school as her parents could no longer support her, Shamimu was forced to marry an older man who was capable of providing for her.  

Shamimu had a complicated first pregnancy. She carried the baby long after her due date. After failing to deliver naturally doctors finally decided to operate on her but sadly the baby had died.

Shamimu spent 3 months in hospital before she was discharged. A few days later she noticed she was leaking urine. Shamimu visited various hospitals but they were not able to help her. Shamimu lived with fistula for 6 years.

Over the years Shamimu was ashamed of her condition and uncomfortable to be around anyone. Her husband was emotionally abusive towards her, spoke ill about her and her condition and mocked her for not being a woman because she was unable to give her husband children. The abuse was too much and she decided to leave her husband and move back to her mothers village. Shamimu was not allowed to take anything from the marriage including her clothes, food, or cooking equipment so she left with nothing. Her husband remarried and all that Shamimu owned was given to the new wife.

In 2019 Shamimu went back to hospital and was referred to our Fistula Care Centre in Malawi. She came to the centre the same year and had a successful fistula operation.

After Shamimu had her fistula operation she was happy to be dry, no longer ashamed and became a very confident woman. Her confidence grew as people stopped talking ill about her and she was able to move around without people passing judgement. She still kept to herself, affected from the emotional abuse from her ex-husband, but she is doing so much better since she got away from him.

During her stay Shamimu attended our educational, cooking and arts and crafts classes as part of our patient rehabilitation and education program (PREP) She especially liked the cooking classes and on returning home started making doughnuts to sell, the profits from which she uses to feed herself and invest in another business. She also started farming tomatoes which she sells.

In March 2023 Shamimu was one of the patients to have been affected by cyclone Freddy. Shamimu lost everything and her house collapsed. She has since built a shelter by the remains of her house and is living there alone. She prays every day before she goes to bed for God to protect her and keep her safe. Her dream is to one day have a successful business that will enable her to support and take care of herself. We will continue to stay in touch with Shamimu to ensure she is not just surviving post fistula, but thriving.

“I am very grateful.  I did not know what I was suffering all these years until I came to the centre. God should continue blessing you for the things you are doing for women like me. Your care for us goes beyond as you provide everything for us during our stay at the centre from providing us with good meals, hygiene packs, good bedding, giving us transport, teaching us skills and so on and these things I have never seen in any of the other hospitals I have visited. I am grateful for everything.”