This is Women's History Month, and
Putting the two together, I would like honor some particular woman by telling her story here. From Half the Sky comes the story of
Simeesh Segaye of Ethiopia
She had her life in order, married at nineteen, she became pregnant and went into labor. There her happy story takes a turn beyond Hell. Her labor went on for two days, at which point the neighbors picked her up and carried her, for several hours, to a bus stop so she could get help. The bus trip took two more days, still in labor, till she finally reached the hospital and they delivered a dead baby.
The baby's head pressing on the pubic joint shuts off the blood supply and can cause necrosis, which happened to Simeesh. Seven cm (about three inches) of her pubic joint just rotted away, and she developed a fistula.
She went back home, with piss and shit dribbling out of her body 24/7 and nothing she could do about it. Her parents saved up money and got on a bus back to the hospital. Once she was on board though, the other passengers complained about how bad she smelled. Imagine a combination of piss, rotting flesh, and shit: trust me, it's not good. They refused to put up with such a stench, and the driver kicked her off the bus.
Back home again, her husband left her. Her parents stood by her, but even they couldn't stand her smell so they built a little shed out back for her to stay in. She went in, curled up in a fetal position and just laid there.
For two years.
She was gradually starving, because one, the more she ate the more feces and urine ran out of her body, and two, she had not much to live for. She just laid there hoping to die. Finally, her parents sold everything they had in order to get money to charter a private car that would take her to the hospital.
By then her legs had atrophied so they were stuck bent at right angles and she couldn't straighten them out. When she could finally walk again, after lots of physical therapy, she got stress fractures in her feet, but she ultimately recovered. Here is her story in more detail.
Unbelievable as it sounds, Simeesh is one of the lucky ones. Her parents didn't disown her; she lives in Ethiopia, which has one hospital that can help, unlike a lot of other countries; and she didn't die shunned and alone.
What can I do to help?
Not a lot from here, it seems like, but you can give a tax-deductible donation to the Fistula Foundation.There's another thing. They have a program called the Circle of Friends, it's kind of like holding a Tupperware party, only better. You could gather a bunch of your friends together and show a video or something to spread awareness. These events can have tremendous effect, and aren't hard to do. One person (link) kicked things off by asking “What was your most embarassing moment?” You can imagine the responses—laughing, mis-sent emails, fashion disasters—American stuff. Simeesh wasn't there to tell about getting kicked off the bus.
For more information, Fistula Foundation encourages you to email them at email@example.com.