Then COVID-19 started spreading across the world at an unbelievable rate. On March 13th I was told that the university where I work was closed for the day and, over that weekend, learned that we would be working from home for a couple of weeks. That time period has been extended. In the meantime, we’ve been advised to wear masks, stay 6 feet away from people, and avoid unnecessary travel. So many unexpected changes – we’ve all been through them. Life, as we knew it, changed - seemingly instantaneously.
So it is for women with fistulas. When I listened again to the survivors’ stories, I was stunned at how quickly their lives had changed. Many lost their babies. They began leaking. Some were abandoned by their husbands. Some had hysterectomies and could no longer have children. Many were shunned by their families and friends. Their daily activities were altered, and their interactions with others were no longer the same. Life, as they knew it, changed.
If you heard Mary Padmore’s interview, you know that her fistula was an indirect result of a tribal birth attendant bouncing on her stomach in an effort to deliver the baby. This led to a C-section (the baby was stillborn) and a hysterectomy, after which she started leaking. Trained medical assistance in rural areas will decrease this type of birthing injury. This is the reason we will build our maternity waiting home up-country.
An update on our maternity waiting home: COVID-19 has set us back a bit. We are waiting to finalize the purchase of the land. As long as Liberians are under quarantine, we won’t be able to complete the purchase. We ask for your prayers on this.
Kathy Beth Stavinoha
Kathy Beth lives and works in Austin, TX. She graduated from high school in Monrovia, Liberia in 1977.