What happened to Merina should never happen to anyone.

Merina’s labour wasn’t progressing as it should. She needed advanced medical care at the district hospital. So villagers carried her on a wooden stretcher to the nearest bus stop, where she waited for hours while in labour, until the bus came.

At the hospital (three days after she went into labour) she underwent a caesarean section. It was too late for her son who had died in her womb. “I would have named him Edwin…” she said sadly.

Her horror didn’t end there. Her difficult labour left her with a fistula, an opening between her birth canal and bladder. She was leaking urine.

Just when she was beginning to lose all her former joy, hope and dignity, someone like you stepped in and provided fistula surgery. You showed Merina how valuable she is and that God loves her.

Merina’s journey was difficult, but she found hope and healing: “I was so happy when I reached CCBRT (cbm’s partner hospital). There were so many other women. Until then I had thought I was the only one with that condition.

I talked to them. Many had lost their baby, too. Those conversations helped me to grieve. I had the surgery. I’m healthy again… the way I used to be. I am so grateful. I want to work in the field again, grow beans and maize. And I want to continue with my little business: I sell self-made snacks and a local brew (called “pombe”). I thought that I could never ever do that again.

I enjoy singing and here (at CCBRT) we sang so much together – also songs about fistulas and that they can be treated. I’m going to sing those songs in my village, too, and will teach them to other women.”

Along with Merina, we can celebrate that, because of supporters like you, fistula surgeries were given to 557 women!