Please help keep hope alive for mothers, like Comfort in Nigeria, living with the life-long smell, shame, and isolation of obstetric fistula.

“…she forgets the anguish because of her joy…”
– John 16:21

How could Comfort ever feel joy again, after all she has been through? Yet this Mother’s Day we celebrate a great triumph of God’s love through the kindness of people like you.

A young mum named Comfort in Nigeria endured the deep sorrow of losing her baby in childbirth. Then, in grief upon grief, her body was wounded with one of the most debilitating health conditions: an obstetric fistula – a hole in her birth canal that let urine flow uncontrolled from her body.

Across the world’s poorest places this year, up to 100,000 mothers will begin to experience the endless humiliation of obstetric fistula. 40% are in Nigeria. Like Comfort, they hide in the shadows of life, unable to afford simple surgery to set themselves free.

This Mother’s Day hardly anyone will think of grieving mothers with obstetric fistula. I am so glad that people like you care about these sisters of ours who are made in God’s image but live in shame. Please celebrate them by helping them.

Please will you prayerfully consider sending your gift to help heal and restore mothers who are facing a lifetime of smell, shame, and isolation due to obstetric fistula.

Comfort was a mother of one child, living in poverty in one of the world’s poorest places. She loved being a mum and was excited about a second child on the way. Sadly, her precious baby died in childbirth.

In delivering her stillborn child, Comfort explains, “After I gave birth, the placenta was left behind. While doing the operation to take it out, my bladder was harmed.”

“I felt wet. I told the doctor it was as if I was passing urine. He doubted it at first, then he confirmed I was. He said there’s nothing he can do about it.

He could do nothing because although obstetric fistula surgery is relatively simple, in Nigeria so few surgeons are trained in this delicate operation.

“He advised me to take native medicine. It didn’t help.”

If the doctor had no idea what to do, how frightening it must have been for Comfort to leave hospital without her baby, and with her body tightly wrapped, unable to hold back her leaking urine.

Mothers like Comfort are often shunned, isolated, and depressed. They are excluded from the daily activities of life. Husbands frequently abandon them. Children are taken from them.

Without help from a kind and caring person like you, Comfort’s obstetric fistula would be a life sentence. The fistula will not heal on its own.

When cbm first began to ask supporters to fund the ministry of obstetric fistula, many mothers had been living with obstetric fistula for 30, 40, or even 50 years. Their lives were tragically limited by this uncontrollable leaking of urine and in some cases, even faeces.

Thanks to kind-hearted cbm supporters like you, there are now fewer of these decades-long lives of despair. The situation is gradually improving – but for Comfort, her struggle with obstetric fistula still stretched out for years.

“I couldn’t control my bladder. It affected me so much. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t bend, I needed help all the time.”

“My mother has complained that I am doing too much work with my condition.” In her life of poverty, Comfort has no choice. “I can’t stay idle. Who will do things for me? I am on my own.”

She cannot speak of her pain or share it with anyone. And there are so many like her, hiding away, suffering in silence.

Please prayerfully consider making mothers like Comfort part of your Mother’s Day this year, by sending your gift for the ministry that will restore their dignity.

In Comfort’s misery, we can see how disability affects families economically. Before the fistula, Comfort worked side-by-side with her sister in a food business. After the fistula, customers turned away because of her smell. “Because of this condition, I reduced the number of times I go to the shop to sell.” This one tiny fistula has made two families’ poverty even worse.

Comfort looked set for a lifetime of rejection, exclusion, and severe deprivation. Then something amazing happened.

“SFHF had an outreach in our community,” exclaimed Comfort.

Outreach – the first irreplaceable step in obstetric fistula ministry, raising awareness of a condition shrouded in stigma.

In many Nigerian communities in greatest poverty, almost everyone lives near a mother with obstetric fistula – they just don’t know it. A mother who never leaves the house. Or if she does, she must constantly check the binding clothes wrapped tightly around her. If she stops to talk, she won’t stop for long. She is always doing laundry. Her skin is raw from constant scrubbing. She doesn’t come to church anymore. These are the sad signs of a mother with obstetric fistula.

Your support for obstetric fistula outreach can turn the light on for friends, family, and neighbours. They can take an information leaflet for themselves or slip it under the door, where a mother like Comfort might find hope.

It might also be that your support can help mothers to hear of the outreach on the radio. A cheap little radio can be a lonely, grieving mother’s only lifeline to community. She hears an announcement about a condition that sounds like hers – from a caring ministry called Sustainable Family Healthcare Foundation (SFHF) who partner with people like you through cbm.

Comfort said “People from SFHF came to my community to talk about it. The symptoms they mentioned matched what I had. I decided to come to the hospital.”

With great courage, she visited a hospital written about before: Kwali General Hospital in Yangoji, near Nigeria’s capital. Despite years of disappointment, I am sure hope couldn’t help growing in Comfort’s heart, but she was amazed by what happened at the hospital.

“I was scheduled for a repair surgery!”

Imagine the surge of joy exploding in Comfort’s heart. Not in her entire lifetime could she save enough money to pay for this surgery. Instead, someone like you has selflessly given a gift to help pay for an operation to bind her wound and restore her life. What a surprise! What a blessing!

Please surprise and bless more mothers like Comfort this Mother’s Day, by helping to fund their life-changing surgery. Send your gift as soon as you can to help set them free from the constant leaking and smelling that comes with obstetric fistula.

“I feel really great about the surgery!” Comfort rejoiced with a grateful heart. The operation was simple, but it was highly skilled, and it was very successful. Comfort’s obstetric fistula was repaired! No more leaking urine!

“My life has changed,” Comfort shouts with joy. “I am feeling good! Things I could not do before, I can do them now. Like walking, laundry, cooking, fetching water, and many other things I couldn’t do before.”

Already experiencing great joy, Comfort was also deeply touched by the kindness of people like you and the ministry of wraparound care towards her. One of the SFHF nurses, Victoria, became a mother figure to Comfort. “She took me in like a mother would. I am so grateful to her.  She enrolled me to learn tailoring, I am training to be a tailor! I thank God for her. I am so grateful.”

What a wonderful ministry! What better way could there be to celebrate Mother’s Day than to lift a grieving mother out of the hopelessness of obstetric fistula and give her a new future!!

Please will you prayerfully consider sending a generous gift for Mother’s Day to help restore hope and dignity to more mothers like Comfort.

Your gift will help find mothers hidden in shame and isolation living with obstetric fistula, and help support life-restoring obstetric fistula surgery, hospital care and home medicine for mothers, like Comfort. Your gift will also help them regain their respect and standing, through new and better livelihoods for their families.

No mother in New Zealand needs to fear obstetric fistula. In Nigeria though, it is a very real threat in childbirth – and when it happens, mothers in poverty like Comfort have no hope of funding their own operation. Their only hope is a friend like you.

This Mother’s Day, please celebrate these mothers, along with all the precious mothers among us. Send your generous gift today to help raise awareness of obstetric fistula and to treat its most debilitating effects. Your kindness will bring joy to mothers who mourn, just as it has for Comfort.

Comfort suffered grief upon grief. First the loss of her stillborn baby, then the humiliation of an obstetric fistula – a wound that endlessly leaked urine, shutting down her life and adding shame to her sorrow. What a beautiful thing you can do to help transform the life of a mother like Comfort. This Mother’s Day please send your gift to help keep hope alive for mothers, like Comfort in Nigeria, living with the life-long smell, shame, and isolation of obstetric fistula. Thank you.