WORLDWIDE FISTULA FUND: Tsahara Was Married and Pregnant at 17

Tsahara now stands smiling for the camera.

At this hospital you can be cured. —Tsahara

Tsahara was an average teenager age living in Niger with her parents and attending school, but at 16 her parents decided she should marry. Niger’s rate of child marriage is 75%: the highest in the world. Tsahara dropped out of school and by 17, she was pregnant.

When labor began, Tsahara went to a clinic and struggled through labor for 2 days, after which, she was taken to a second clinic and continued labor for a 3rd day. Her father gathered enough money to ambulance her to the hospital where she delivered a stillborn baby by C-section.

After her painful labor and heartbreaking stillborn delivery, Tsahara discovered herself continuously leaking urine through her vagina. Tsahara was told she had an obstetric fistula. Repulsed by her condition, her husband rejected her; Tsahara had no choice but to return to her parents’ home, devastated.

Before her fistula, Tsahara would gather firewood for the home and socialize with friends in her village; now she avoided working or even leaving the house. Tsahara suffered this way for 3 years, until she learned of Danja Fistula Center (DFC) – built by Worldwide Fistula Fund in 2012.

Tsahara’s complicated fistula required 3 surgeries. Of the surgeries performed at DFC, 40% are considered difficult fistula cases. Not only did Tsahara heal physically, but also emotionally and mentally. She received support from other fistula survivors and learned to knit and use a sewing machine through DFC’s Reintegration Program.

Tsahara is excited and optimistic for her future. She is back with her husband and intends to sell her knitting and handiwork to buy a sewing machine and become a tailor.

Photo Credit: Joni Kabana