Nyamweya is a journalist currently attached to a leading Kenyan media
SHARON KORIR a lawyer by profession doesn’t shy away from narrating her nasty experiences as a fistula victim. The middle aged mother of two speaks to SILAS NYAMWEYA on why she is so incessant on saving women suffering from fistula through her organization, Save a Woman Fistula Foundation.
Kindly introduce yourself
I am 36 years old mother of two amazing children, a boy and a girl. I am a lawyer by profession and a law teacher in one of the international schools in Nairobi and I am the founder of Save a Woman Fistula Foundation.
What exactly is fistula according to your experience?
Fistula is a tear that starts from the vagina all the way to the rectum. Once the tear happens on the vagina, and goes all the way to the rectum, it becomes one and creates a hole. Since there is an interchange of organs, you will find yourself leaking urine, and stool since you are not able to hold them.
How did it start on your part?
Four years ago, I went through an experience that completely changed my life socially, sexually and in character. I was diagnosed with I was literary leaking urine and feces. I was diagnosed with recta vaginal fistula.
I got married and my first baby came through without any complications. It was a normal delivery. We stayed in the hospital for three days, went back home, healed, resumed to work and life was normal like any other ordinary mother.
After seven years, I felt ready to have another baby and luckily I became pregnant. However, a few days to delivery, I developed a complication known as sciatica. This made be unable to walk normally and I had to use clutches. I used to feel a sharp excruciating pain in my pelvic bone.
How was the delivery itself, bearing these complications?
There were a lot of struggle; I labored for too long, the baby came in too late and forcefully. However, I eventually gave birth to my baby but the labor process ended up forming a vaginal lining all the way to the rectum and it formed a hole. Because of that hole, I got an interchange of organs, I used to discharge stool from my vagina and I used to discharge urine from the rectum. Then I couldn’t hold urine and faces, they would just flow freely.
This is so Traumatic.. For how long did this continue?
This went on for a couple of weeks until I opted to share my experience with my sister in law. She advised me to visit Kenyatta Hospital because she had suspected the problem to be fistula. I went to Kenyatta hospital and interestingly, I found thousands of other women suffering from the same condition as mine. After going through normal screening, the doctor revealed that I was suffering from fistula. I kept low for almost six months which to me was the longest time in my life because I felt like a living dead.
How did this affect you personally?
I almost went mad because I couldn’t imagine living with this condition. I was traumatic, devastated and lost self-esteem. I couldn’t do my regular activities. Personally, I am a typical sanguine. I love to talk, share and interact with people. I used to have a lot of friends visit me in my house. However, this experience made me a cold person and I started keeping people away. I couldn’t tell anybody even my closest relative of what I was going through. So many things came into my mind. My sexual life came to a standstill because of the smelling and all that I was going through. I completely lost hope of living a normal life again. I even thought I had been bewitched. I couldn’t even do my regular job because of what I was going through.
Was the problem eventually go away?
Yes, my sister hooked me up with a doctor, a fistula surgeon who recommended a private corrective surgery. However, I since he was so much engaged, I had to wait for him to be free for the surgery. Luckily, the surgery worked and my body organs started functioning well again. However, I had to go through 9 months of healing since I still had to use the same organs for excretion and thus they were prone to reinfections.
What did this experience teach you?
Basically, this experience really humbled me, and it made me connect with women. Especially those from a poor background and who cannot afford proper healthcare. Imagine being an elite, learned woman, giving birth to one of the leading hospitals in Kenya, yet I ended up getting fistula, why? I believe God wanted me to connect with women who were suffering from this condition but are unable to seek medical care and get mental healing through sharing and interacting with each other. The fistula experience gave me a burden to speak about it.
Is this why you started “Save a Woman Fistula Foundation”
Absolutely yes. Save a Woman Fistula Foundation is basically a beacon of hope where women come together, share the same experiences, and find mental healing. The more we talk this among ourselves the more healing comes through because most of it is mental.
The foundation is also purposed at creating awareness since not many Kenyans are aware of this condition; it is thus a way of outreach, empowering them and giving them hope of life. We understand fistula is treated through corrective surgery and life will go back to normal.
So far, more than 30 women have benefited from the foundation and they have been able to speak about fistula in different platforms including social media, mainstream media etc. This gives me satisfaction.