Interview Date: February 25, 2020
Interview Location: Phebe Rehabilitation Center, Bong County
Interviewer: Kathy Beth Stavinoha
Assisted by: Emma K. Katakpah
Wilhelmina Davis is from Grand Gedeh County. She told me “thank you, God will bless you,” in Krahn, her dialect. She has five brothers and three sisters. She has four children of her own. Her oldest is 18. Her next child is 12. The third one is 10. Her fourth child is 7. They are all four boys. Her youngest had been living in Grand Gedeh County, but she sent for him to join her at the Rehab Center. Wilhelmina is 35 and has not been to school. Her favorite color is blue
She got her fistula from going to the bush to give birth (giving birth at home). The pain grabbed her (she was in labor), but those assisting with her delivery did not want to wait. They asked her how many hours she had been in labor. They did not want to listen to her. They were trying to force delivery by hauling the child (pulling on the baby). The people said that something was coming from underneath her so they took her to Redemption [Hospital]. They gave her some medicine and sent her home. She went to Dr. Mulbah’s clinic and he said she had a fistula.
Dr. Mulbah repaired her fistula. Dr. Mabry did a follow-up examination for some residual incontinence, but she said Wilhelmina no longer has a fistula. She said she would be okay. Wilhemina still leaks small small (a little bit).
She was feeling bad when she had her fistula. Her big sister didn’t want her to feel bad. She didn’t want her to be worrying. She would hold her and talk to her. She assured her that God would be with her and that God would help her.
But her boyfriend didn’t have time for her since she had her fistula. Since she was in Monrovia, he wouldn’t even call her. Her sister was the one that took care of her. She didn’t do anything to make her feel bad. Whatever she wanted; her sister would do for her. She gave her support. She told her to come to the Rehab Center to learn a trade.
Her friends wouldn’t come around. She couldn’t tell them her secret. Because when you tell your secret, they’ll be “carrying your name around” (gossiping) so she’s got no friends. She just kept quiet about it. She said “My stomach is feeling all right.” No one besides her sister knew of her problem (fistula), because if you explain your problem they’ll be “carrying your name all around.”
She learned tailoring, soap making, and bread making. But there hasn’t been any material for a year now. She’s been at Rehab for one year. She wants to go home. She wants to fix soap and bread to sell for money so she can send her son to school. She would be supporting her children.
She would tell a pregnant friend to go to Phebe Hospital to wait until your time is reached [you’re ready to deliver]. If you’re pregnant go to the hospital to deliver safely to avoid getting a fistula.
Wilhelmina is a fistula survivor. Hear her story in her own voice.