Obstetric Fistula Survivor
In 2005, TERREWODE helped Joyce Ingwedo, a woman who had lived with fistula for 20 years, receive surgery to repair her fistula. Living in Oderai, Soroti, Ingwedo, a mother of six, had lived with the stigma from her fistula for two decades. She has fresh accounts of her experience with fistula including isolation, stigma, and discrimination.
She was rejected by her clan and isolated from her community for years, but now, with the help of TERREWODE, she is living a dignified life as a respected leader in her community In order to symbolize her transformed life, she plans to build a permanent house on her property. As one of the most successful beneficiaries of the TERRE- WODE Social Reintegration program for fistula patients designed in 2005, Ingwedo plans to build her house using savings she made over the years through the Micro-credit revolving loan from TERREWODE.
She received the interest-free loan twice. Initially, she used the loan to buy and sell smoked fish within the local markets. She then used those proceeds to buy goats. Later when the goats multiplied in numbers, she started to barter them for cows. Currently, she barters 10 goats per cow. When TERREWODE first met Ingwedo, she was isolated a nd str ip pe d of all possessions, but now, she owns 6 cows.
Cows are not all that Ingwedo has gained since she recovered from fistula. The good and constructive leadership skills which Ingwedo has portrayed in her local drama group, the Gweri Fistula Survivors, have earned her respect from members of her family who once despised her and chased her away from home.
She is now a role model and has been crowned the Chairperson of women within her clan. Today, Ingwedo holds the responsibility of mobilizing women while also making decisions pertaining to women in her clan. As such, she acts as their representative on a number of occasions. Such a position never existed in the African tradition previously and is indeed a great step in the empowerment of women and the treatment of obstetric fistula
Obstetric Fistula Survivor
“When TERREWODE identified me and started treating me, I got hope. I saw light at the end of the tunnel.” Arago recounts a substandard life filled with loneliness and humiliation to the point that she couldn’t attend village gatherings or church.
She was 30 years old when she got married and experienced four miscarriages, with the last one resulting in obstetric fistula. She was 47 years old when she had surgery and fully recovered. “I was finally healed although I could not bear children anymore because of age." she narrates with mixed feelings of happiness and desolation.
“I started Fighting teenage pregnancies by sensitizing the parents and speaking against early child marriages. I am happy that I can notice a change in behavior among people.” Arago’s undeniably strong spirit served as a fuel that led her and her group to a success- ful start. The Abarilela group orchestrated activities for up to 30 members. She successfully introduced savings and credit to support the income generating business- es for group members as an economic endorsement.
As a result, members were saving up to Ushs 1,800,000 (about 480 US Dollars) annually before COVID -19! The Abarilela group did not stop at that. A few talented members of this group continued to use Music, Dance, and Drama as a powerful weapon to increase knowledge and awareness among the members of the community. They were able to reach a large portion of Ugandans as they collaborated with renown and reputable celebrities from different regions in Uganda such as: Juliana Kanyomozi, a multiple award-winning Ugandan actress and pop musician well known among Western Uganda’s decent musicians; Halima Namakula, a Ugandan musician, actress, entrepreneur and humanitarian from Central Uganda; and JM Kennedy, a pop singer from the West Nile. The group’s triumph didn't stop there; they went to the extent of performing at Uganda’s oldest cultural institution, most popular to tourists around the world.
Arago’s group is among the 44 registered solidarity groups that TERREWODE has created.