Future Fistula AmbassadorMarch 5, 2023The UVP Team “As a result of [my] fistula, I faced stigma, self-isolation, fear, the loss of my marriage, and loss of hope.” These are the harrowing words of 19-year-old Suzan, a fistula survivor. This type of obstetric injury, often the result of prolonged births that result in tearing, can cause significant mental and emotional hardships in addition to the physical injury. When she went into labor, Suzan first attempted to deliver with a Traditional Birth Attendant. However, her labor stalled, and Suzan was quickly in critical condition. She was rushed to the hospital by a neighbor who owned a car. At that point it was too late to save her baby, but Suzan recovered. After she awoke, Suzan noticed she was “leaking” urine. Heartbroken over the loss of her child, demoralized and traumatized from the complications that proceeded, Suzan contemplated suicide. But Suzan slowly started to regain hope after learning about UVP—and our fistula repair camps—from a neighbor. “One of UVP’s Fistula Ambassadors was speaking in [my] village and a neighbor got her contact information. I learned about UVP and the fistula program from this person.” Following a successful fistula repair operation, Suzan participated in UVP’s extended rehabilitation program. Suzan is excited to return home fully healed, and she aspires to become a UVP Fistula Ambassador in the future. “After healing, and returning home to my children and family, I hope to sensitize the community about fistula and become an ambassador to create more fistula awareness!” Fistula Ambassadors (FAs) significantly expand the reach of our fistula program; these former UVP fistula patients or family members of fistula survivors are trained as peer educators. FAs work to identify potential fistula repair patients, educate others about the condition, and share their individual success stories. The ultimate goal of this initiative is to widen our reach while still maintaining and building a strong, intimate “village.” Learn more about our fistula program here.