The Leap of Faith that Changed Quinter Akinyi’s Life Story. Fistula Free Now!

by Amref Health Africa

Meet Quinter Akinyi, a mother of four who lives with her family in the Kabunde area, Homabay County. She works as an ECD teacher in a local preschool and takes pride in sharing knowledge and insights, particularly in guiding children through their growth journey. Quinter is one of the beneficiaries of the free fistula camp organized by Amref Health Africa in Kenya in collaboration with UNFPA, Mpesa Foundation, Beyond Zero Kenya, and the Flying Doctors Society of Africa. The camp was hosted at the Homabay County Teaching and Referral Hospital to allow women suffering from obstetric fistula to get screened and repaired to regain their dignity and self-worth.

She narrates that, while giving birth to her fourth child, she developed complications resulting in the death of her stillborn and contracting a fistula. This marked the onset of her harrowing condition – she grappled with incontinence and an unavoidable odour, leading to social isolation – and her community turned away from her. She sought help from hospitals on different occasions but was not fully helped. She underwent surgery to correct her condition, but they were not successful. She lost hope of healing and being like other women in her community.

Quinter suffered from a fistula condition for one year, which caused her great distress. While her family offered their support, they struggled to accept her because of it fully. As a result, she felt alone, depressed, and unloved. Quinter knew she had to accept herself as she was or do nothing. Despite these challenges, she remained committed to her mother and ECD teacher role. The unwavering support of her family, especially her husband, who was also facing his difficulties – providing for the family, was crucial in helping her come to terms with her condition and find hope again.

One morning, while doing her household chores, she heard about a free fistula camp on Ramogi Radio, which would be hosted at the Homabay County Referral Hospital. Her mind raced as she reflected on the numerous occasions she had visited the hospital for help but received very little support. She had given up hope as she had already used all her meagre resources to seek medical assistance, but with no promising outcome. She was afraid to tell her husband that she would be going to the hospital again. But she gathered the courage and decided to take a leap of faith, believing this could be her only chance to regain her normal self and dignity as a woman.

Quinter arrived at the camp looking stressed and confused. She went through the screening process and was scheduled for surgery. Due to the high number of women who were also admitted and booked for repair, Quinter had to wait for two days before undergoing the surgery. After the surgery, she stayed in the hospital for a week to allow herself to heal. This was Quinter’s third surgery, and she hoped that her condition would be fully healed this time. She expressed gratitude towards the doctors for their exceptional care and handling of her case, which differed from her previous surgeons. Quinter prayed that she would once again become a dignified woman.

After one week, Quinter was no longer leaking urine, “I could not believe that I was not passing urine unconsciously”, she said.

She was given guidance on proper food and activities at home to aid her recovery after surgery. The psychosocial support she received played a critical role in shaping her healing experience. “Sometimes, when I come to the training, I interact with other women who have undergone repair. We share experiences, and I tell myself I am better off.” The weekly meet-up sessions help these women overcome stigma, depression, and other coping mechanisms in response to the changing dynamics of their community. Most importantly, they are taught how to care for their wounds and which indicators might require medical attention.

The psychosocial support group also allows the women to learn entrepreneurial and business skills, which prepares them to fully integrate back into the community.

Amref, along with other partners, returned to Homabay County to assess the well-being of Quinter and other women who underwent surgery. What we observed and encountered was delightful – the once gloomy faces now shone with pure joy. Quinter couldn’t contain her happiness as she was now completely healed and no longer passing urine uncontrollably. She expressed her gratitude, saying, “I don’t know how to thank you. You were God sent. My leap of faith has made me to regain my normal self and dignity. I can now perform my routine work as a woman, but with the doctors’ advice, I will refrain from heavy tasks. God bless you abundantly – erokamano.”.

Quinter’s story is more than a tale of personal struggle; it’s a testament to the power of human resilience, the importance of community support, and the transformative impact of organisations like Amref Health Africa in Kenya and partners. Her journey of adversity to a beacon of hope and change is an inspiring narrative, demonstrating that one can overcome the most daunting challenges of one’s life with courage and determination—one woman at a time!

Author: Noah Wekesa – Communications (KCO/HQ), Amref Health Africa.

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