Yesterday the hospital opened. 60 VVF surgical candidates were screened. Journalists and media documented the historical day which was eight years in the making. It was exciting for everyone.
Except for three women.
VVF stands for vesico-vaginal fistula. During a pro-longed labor pressure from the head of a fetus can cause internal tissue to become necrotic. A fistula develops between the bladder and vagina and causes a constant leak of urine. More severe fistula's may include the rectum and feces will leak as well.
Western medicine has eliminated this condition in the developed world. But in Africa at least 2 million women are leaking.
They leak because girls are forced to marry before they have fully developed pelvic bones. They leak because their bodies are malnourished. They leak because maternal care is not accessible. Often, a woman will endure five of six days of unattended labor. Her efforts produce a dead baby and a solemn memorial.
I have watched an American child die. We support bereaved parents.
VVF women are societies outcast's. Husbands leave. Friends ignore. Unable to control their stench they are left to carry their burdens alone. Many become severely depressed.
60 women arrived yesterday with hope. Hope that they might regain their lives.
57 are still hoping.
3 went home.
This morning during our crew meeting we prayed those three women. And we continue to hope for the other 57.