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 Fatima Iya Abba Mustapha’s Story


Fatima is an indigene of Ngomari Airport in Maiduguri. She is a divorced mother of eight children following her 22-year-marriage. Fatima lived happily with her husband, her family, community members, and her relatives. She developed fistula, during the birth of her first child and had been living with the condition for 19 years.

I had to leave my husband’s house and come back to my family house, to stay with my mother. This happened when my relationship with my husband worsened. During the course of my stay in my family house, my relationship with relatives also deteriorated because of my illness. This forced me to look for an alternative accommodation, which meant finding a place to stay on my own.” The 42-year-old survivor said.


 Fatima and her children

 Obstetric Fistula is a preventable and treatable condition, one that no woman should have to endure. Yet more than 400, 000 women remain untreated in Nigeria. Annually, UNFPA repairs about 3, 000 fistula cases but a lot more still need to be done.

This situation affected Fatima’s day-to-day activities, as she always feels sad and fed up with life, anytime she reflects on her condition and the way friends, family members, and the community treated and judged her. It was difficult mingling with people because as much as she wanted to, the stench of urine always made it difficult for her to attend any form of social gathering, which is a lot, naming, weddings, burials, etc.

“I cried a lot, because of how my close relatives and even the man I married for years treated me, and who also was a part of the reason I developed the fistula. Yes, it is because of him, that I came to be with this sickness because I was giving birth to his child.” Fatima said in tears.

After renting a place for herself and her children, Fatima and her children stayed in the rented house for six years. At that time, a former fistula survivor who was successfully rehabilitated and underwent successful fistula repair sponsored by UNFPA told her about the organization and their intervention in the area of fistula repairs. Fatima wasted no time in going immediately to the State Specialist Hospital, where her details were collected and, she was entered into the fistula program and booked for a repair surgery in November 2021 campaign. She was successfully operated upon and she has completely healed and is now living a healthy and normal life.

After the organization accommodated us for six months allowing us to properly heal for free, providing us with food and medicines, the organization (UNFPA) enrolled us into skills acquisition training, where we learned how to knit caps, make local incense, and henna,” Fatima said.

 Her family, especially her mother and her children, are very happy, that she is now feeling better and has been cured permanently. Her husband, who had previously divorced her and married a second wife, is now begging her to reconcile with him and begging her to return back to him. “…but I will never go back to the man that abandoned me in my time of need, and neglected me all these years! God forbid!  I will never go back to him; I wish I know more about my bodily health before the fistula all these pains wouldn’t have been suffered by me, I will rather take care of my children to make them a better human being.” She added.