Empowering Women to Become Advocates in Their Communities: UNFCU Foundation Supports UNFPA and Its Provision of Lifesaving Medical Care to Ostracized Women

Meet Rahama. A victim of child marriage and an obstetric fistula survivor, Rahama is now a leading advocate for the women of her community.

Rahama was 13 years old when her father pulled her out of school and forced her into marriage. She was a junior secondary school student, with the ambition of becoming a nurse.

Shortly after her marriage, Rahama became pregnant. She was not allowed outside her home, missing the opportunity to receive appropriate prenatal care. “My life was miserable,” Rahama said as she reflected on her childhood.

“I was in labor for two days, at home with a traditional birth helper. It left me very weak and I fainted twice before my parents were informed. My mother rushed me to the hospital, where I gave birth to a stillborn baby by caesarean.”

Along with the mental trauma of losing a child, Rahama also suffered damage to her body. She developed obstetric fistula, a medical condition in which a hole develops in the birth canal during prolonged childbirth labor.

“When my husband was informed of my condition, I was not allowed to cook or even touch anything in the house. There was too much hatred towards me,” said Rahama.

She ran away. “I just wanted to move away from the hatred and stay anywhere till I died. People were avoiding me because I was smelling.”

Exhausted from the long walk after running away from home, Rahama sat under a tree and started crying. A stranger approached her to ask what had happened. “I told him my story and he took me to the Fistula Foundation Nigeria Medical Centre.” The centre was set up with the support of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency.

UNFCU Foundation is proud to be a longstanding partner of UNFPA and its ‘Campaign to End Fistula.’ We continue to join UNFPA and its partners to prevent and to end this treatable condition. Moreover, to provide quality care to fistula survivors and to address the underlying causes of inequality in marginalized communities.

Rahama had a successful fistula repair surgery at the Fistula Foundation Nigeria Medical Centre.

Once discharged from hospital, Rahama was enrolled into the UNFPA-led vocational skills training programme to learn how to become a seamstress. The program also focused on empowering women to become advocates in their communities.

Upon graduation, Rahama received a sewing machine, with a start-up kit. She was also hired as a community educator by the Fistula Foundation Nigeria.

“My life has completely changed! Today, I earn a living as a seamstress and help women of my community seek treatment for fistula. My role allows me to conduct fistula surveillance, to give hope to women and girls suffering from this condition.”

With your generous donation, we can continue to be a part of the solution. Women like Rahama and others will continue to find hope and regain their dignity to access new opportunities. Rising Together. Empowering Women. Achieving Success.