I started thinking about women and girls with fistula. Just as I had no control over my body, neither do they. Fluids flow from their bodies, soiling their clothing and causing a stench. It’s not always urine that leaks. Some women have a rectovaginal fistula leak - a hole between the rectum and vagina - that causes stool or gas to pass through the vagina.
According to the Mayo Clinic’s web site, “Delivery-related injuries are the most common cause of rectovaginal fistulas,” often “following a long, difficult, or obstructed labor.” Most of the fistula survivors I interviewed last year had been in labor for three or four days. I’ve met some survivors who were in labor for six days.
House of Hope and Dignity will provide women with a place to stay toward the end of their pregnancy. There will be trained staff on-site and, it becomes necessary, an expectant mother will be taken for medical treatment before a prolonged labor causes a fistula.