Leaking urine for 20 years. More than half her life!
Few people in countries with advanced medical care even know what obstetric fistula is… but alongside other generous cbm supporters, you can help heal desperate young mothers suffering from fistula.
Please will you prayerfully consider sending a gift to help despairing young mothers like Balkisu so they can be freed from their debilitating health condition.
Fistula occurs during traumatic childbirth causing a tear in the birth canal. This tear allows bodily waste to escape uncontrollably through a woman’s birth canal. These young mothers suffer pain, rejection and isolation as a result of this debilitating health condition.
Treating fistula is not for the fainthearted. It means being able to see a mother’s worth, even when she reeks of urine or faeces.
Please support young mothers like Balkisu on their journey to be free from fistula by sending your generous gift today, so women hidden in shame can end their exile of disgrace. Help them receive surgery to heal their constant leaking and restore their wounded spirits.
This is a truly beautiful ministry of grace to God’s most heartbroken and rejected daughters like Balkisu.
Now 38, Balkisu was once a young woman in love with her husband, looking forward to having children. She grew up in a remote part of Nigeria where girls were not valued enough to send to school. She was not allowed an education or a trade. At 16 she married and moved far from home to join her husband’s family.
She became pregnant very young. When labour came, it went on for far too long, with no expert maternal healthcare. Balkisu knew something was wrong, but her husband disallowed her to go to hospital as nobody in the family had experienced a traumatic birth or went to hospital for childbirth. Balkisu was in agonising pain, uncared for, and left to labour for an entire week! When a neighbour was finally allowed in to help her, Balkisu’s baby had died.
As young Balkisu mourned her child, something very bad was happening deep inside her body. It was a tiny thing, but it has completely wrecked every part of her life. The dying baby had spent so long trapped during labour that the tender wall of Balkisu’s birth canal had been starved of blood flow. The dead flesh inside Balkisu broke open, forming a hole. Urine started to seep through, straight from her bladder… into her birth canal, then straight out, running down her legs.
At first, Balkisu thought this kind of discharge was a normal part of giving birth. But it smelled like… was it? Yes, it was urine, spilling out of her uncontrollably. She kept her shame to herself for two long weeks, before confiding in her husband. Finally he agreed to take her to the local hospital, where they told her she would just have to learn to live with this unstoppable incontinence. No cure, no treatment, no surgery, no care.
Balkisu was horrified and deeply heartbroken. For a young mother already morning the loss of her baby, to be told she would be leaking urine for the rest of her life - she felt her existence unbearable. Devastated and distraught, she walked home in silence with her husband. He offered his grieving wife not one word of comfort.
Balkisu tried very hard to keep her incontinence a secret. She knew how “leaking young mothers” were treated. Rejected. Despised. Abandoned.
To avoid this, Balkisu withdrew and told no-one. Her husband knew, though. As time passed her husband became frustrated, enraged and disgusted with her. The man who had promised to love her through thick and thin, sneered angrily at her, rejecting the food she prepared for him.
In countries like ours, where obstetric fistula doesn’t usually occur due to expert medical intervention, a simple surgical procedure would fix it, if it did happen. In places like remote Nigeria, though, there is no such treatment and fistula happens all too often.
Sadly the news of Balkisu’s incontinence got out. As much as desperate young mothers with this condition try to wrap themselves and constantly launder their clothes, it is impossible to hide the smell. People began to mock her. They said God was punishing her. In her shame, Balkisu believed them and despaired. Losing all hope…
“I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me,” she wept.
She felt like an outcast… and indeed, her husband started taking steps to throw her out of their marriage and home. Her husband began suggesting that Balkisu should find somewhere else to live. He said God was cursing her, and he didn’t want to be affected by her punishment.
This drove Balkisu into deeper heartbreak than she had ever known. “Why has God deserted me?” she cried, as tears soaked her pillow and urine soaked her sheet.
The cruelty and rejection of her husband and his family threw Balkisu into a downward spiral of despair, mental illness and physical affliction. Can you imagine her life? Constantly leaking urine. Reeking with a foul smell every single day. No money for sanitary products. Sores spreading across her groin. Forbidden to seek further help.
This unbearable situation, the leaking, the smelling, the husband’s rejection, the mocking and despair went on… and on… and on… for two whole decades. More than 20 years of degradation. More than half of Balkisu’s life!!
Eventually, after many years of cruelty and abuse, her husband could bear her no longer. He threw her out. “He picked up every single item I owned and put them in a metal box. He came to me and said You have to leave, Balkisu. I have had enough of this.”
“Please,” she begged, but he would not listen. As she walked out of the house, completely bereft, she urinated uncontrollably. One final grim humiliation.
She didn’t know where to go. Her mind wandered, back to a time when she was happy. Far away, long ago, with her brothers and sisters. Balkisu knew that all her siblings were dead, but one, due to her family’s poverty and the hardship of their lives. There was just one brother left, but Balkisu had not seem him for so many years. They were just children when she left home to be married.
After more than 20 years, all the money she had to her name added up to 1400 Naira. In New Zealand dollars that is equivalent to just $5.62. She spent it all on a bus ticket, and a taxi-scooter ride in search of her long-lost brother, hundreds of kilometres away.
As she finally reached her old home, she saw a young man threshing wheat under a mango tree. It was her brother, Unman! As she got closer to him, even though he had not seen her for over 20 years, and even though she was just a girl when she left and now she was nearly forty … he recognised her immediately.
“Balkisu, Balkisu!” he yelled in great joy and excitement. Unman ran to her, throwing his arms around her and immediately welcoming her into his small thatched hut made of mud.
Balkisu looked at her brother with downcast eyes and wept. She poured out her heart and tearfully spoke about the loss of her baby, the heart-breaking years of her incontinence, pain and isolation, ending with her husband’s total rejection.
He was shocked, but after a moment, he found his words, and they were full of hope. Balkisu had come looking for love and acceptance from her brother. He was able to offer her even more than that.
As a wheat farmer, he often travelled to sell his wares in a province called Gombe. And there, he told her, was an outreach clinic offering free help and free surgery for exactly the kind of condition Balkisu had been suffering for more than half her life!
By God’s grace, Balkisu found her way to the outreach clinic set up to free young mothers from their debilitating health condition! God had not rejected or forgotten or punished Balkisu. He loved her so much, He provided exactly the help she needed, through generous and kind people like you. Balkisu and her brother went to the outreach clinic in Gombe. She was seen, examined, diagnosed and scheduled for surgery without delay.
The surgery… made possible by generous people like you… was successful. “I am dry again, after so many years,” Balkisu says happily. A smile is on her face for the first time in more than half her life. It’s a great joy to know you will be helping young mothers like Balkisu to be cared for and set free from fistula.
Fistula is mostly unknown to young mothers in New Zealand and if fistula does happen during childbirth mothers here are treated instantly. In Nigeria, though, there are many young mothers like Balkisu who suffer this kind of leaking, humiliation and loss every single day for decades.
Please will you help end the misery and humiliation of young mothers like Balkisu. Your gift will help find isolated young mothers like Balkisu through outreaches like the clinic in Gombe. You will help give a fistula patient like Balkisu life-changing surgery and the healing she needs in hospital and beyond, such as medicine and a safe place to stay.
Balkisu thought everyone was against her, even God, but He is for her! Praise God for those willing to help treat this tragic condition that rarely affects young mothers in New Zealand.
There are many young mothers like Balkisu in Nigeria. They have been suffering decades of pain, rejection and isolation, but today you can restore their hope and set them free from their debilitating condition. Thank you so much.
cbm New Zealand is a charity registered with New Zealand Charities Services since 4th February 1999, Registration number CC26154
Celebrating Victoria, Diana, Victoria, Fina, Rafeea & Editha. Thanks to generous people like you, they are no longer rejected, despised and abandoned. They are now free from fistula!