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 the Philippines

(update October 2020) 

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