Interview Date: February 25, 2020
Interview Location: Phebe Rehabilitation Center, Bong County
Interviewer: Kathy Beth Stavinoha
Assisted by: Emma K. Katakpah
Susan Dwanah is from Bopolu. Her favorite color is pink. She is the oldest child (the first) in her family. She is 22. She doesn’t know the ages of her 2 brothers and 1 sister. Susan has no children.
I sensed a lot of pain and reluctance to talk about her experience. At one point during the interview, I felt compelled to tell her she should not be ashamed. She has a sickness. She has a lovely smile and laughed when we joked about her doing my hair and when I showed off my limited Kpelle.
Susan was in pain (in labor) for 3 days. Then “they were on her” and she got the pee pee problem (fistula). She had a C-section to remove the baby who was stillborn.
Emma Katakpah explained that Susan was assessed for surgery in December 2019, during the fistula campaign. Her fistula is all the way to the bone, so it will require a special surgery. It’s a very difficult surgery. So, she is still on a waiting list to have her fistula repaired and she is still leaking. She has been leaking since 2018.
Susan had been at Rehab for a month at the time of the interview. Unfortunately, she hasn’t learned a trade because there is no material available. The Rehab Center has run out of material. Susan is hoping that they will be able to get things so she will be able to practice. She wants to learn cosmetology and plait hair. She can do some now. The other girls who are at Rehab, had completed their courses and were only awaiting graduation. When Susan goes back home, she wants to fix a place to do her business.
The fistula makes her feel bad. Her grandmother is at Rehab with her. Her former friends have abandoned her, but she has made new friends at Rehab. They play ball together.
Susan would tell pregnant women to go to the doctor so they would not get fistula. They shouldn’t stay in the village. They shouldn’t go behind the house
Although not yet healed, Susan is a fistula survivor. Hear her story in her own voice: