In South Sudan early marriage and teenage pregnancy are common, the fertility rate is high and very few women give birth in the presence of a skilled attendant. A complicated childbirth can result in serious injuries, if not fatal for the mother and the child. One such injury is a fistula, what causes urinary or fecal incontinence through the vagina.

A huge stigma surrounds these women who therefore get rejected by their family, friends and society and have to carry the burden of their injury alone. Women living with a fistula therefore often reduce their fluid intake, which causes kidney disease and bladder stones. 

After a surgical intervention the women will be accepted again by their family and re-integrate into society. Fistula campaigns transform women from the loneliest, most sad, shy and dehumanised people into the happiest human beings I’ve ever seen.

During this fistual campaign of 2 months 54 women were operated by surgeon Dr. Volker Herzog. I had the opportunity to follow the operation of Akoot Wol, a 20 year old woman who suffered from a fistula for 6 years.

I loved the campaign because it gave back dignity to the patients and literally transformed their life from hell back to normality.

Gogrial, South Sudan, 2012

Currently in Belgium

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