Susan Willis-Hirst, one of our board members, recently visited the cbm-funded hospital in Tanzania where she met patient Elizabeth James. She tells her story as follows:
"I noticed Elizabeth as soon as I arrived in the Fistula Ward meeting room. She was tiny and obviously older than the other patients. She sat diminutively with the tell tale drainage bucket at her feet. (Patients who have had their fistula surgery have a catheter for several weeks).
Thanks to interpreters I was privileged to hear her story.
Elizabeth is a 65 year old farmer from the Bikoba region, 2 days by bus from the CCBRT hospital. After having 2 children, her third pregnancy resulted in the loss of her baby and her fistula. That was 23 years ago.
Although her husband stayed with her, she was rejected by many family members due to her condition. She was able to work to support her children and grandchildren as her leaking didn’t matter so much in the fields. However, at home she was not allowed to attend church and was afraid to meet new people.
One day a group for the cbm-funded hospital visited her village. Mama Malinga, the manager of the Fistula Ward, heard there was a woman with fistula and came to find her.
Elizabeth was embarrassed so hid from her, but her husband convinced Elizabeth to meet Mama Malinga and to get help.
She travelled two days by bus to get to the hospital and has now had her surgery. She is looking forward to being free to worship at her church and to being comfortable around others. She also wants to be an ambassador to others. She knows of two neighbours who have fistula and she would like to help them to get help."
Elizabeth would like to say to supporters of cbm, "thank you for saving me from my torture."