Those of us who travel to Liberia to work with women and girls who have an obstetric fistula, have seen young girls who were injured because their bodies were not yet ready for the birthing process. Their bodies are too small for the baby’s head to pass through their pelvis, causing it to press down on her pelvic bone. This leads to a loss of blood supply, destruction of tissue, and ultimately a fistula. It typically results in the death of her child.
We have also spoken with women whose bodies are developed enough, but whose “coach,” the Traditional Tribal Midwife (TTM), gave them bad advice or worse, bounced on their bellies. The process was different, but the result was the same.
This one mistake on the part of the TTM, or the girl’s attempt to bear a child before being ready, often destroys her goal to have children, as she often needs to have a hysterectomy in addition to fistula repair surgery. It can lead to years of pain and suffering, and heartbreaking tears.
The place where skaters wait for the judges’ marks is referred to as the “kiss and cry.” A medically trained midwife and a place to stay during her last week of pregnancy can make all the difference for an expectant mom. Will she kiss a newborn baby or will she cry at the loss of her child and her inability to bear children?
We are so close to completing House of Hope and Dignity but we still need funds to reach our goal of being operational in the fall of 2023! Will you help make that happen? I hope so, because after that, we are going to start on Phase II of our project which is to build a fistula clinic with an operating room. I don’t want to see anymore tears – unless they are tears of joy.
Kathy Beth Stavinoha
Kathy Beth graduated from high school in Monrovia, Liberia in 1977. She retired from St. Edward’s University after 21+ years of service. She lives in Brenham, TX with her husband and cat.