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Three generations of fistula heroes: Fanny, her mother Dorcas, and her child Kasongo.

Sixteen-year-old Fanny sat with her mother as she told her story. Her infant, Kasongo, cooed happily in her lap.

Together, their family represents three generations of fistula heroes.

Fanny’s baby is a miracle. Infants rarely survive the type of wrenching, prolonged labor that causes obstetric fistula. Too often, when a young woman starts leaking urine after delivery, she is also grieving the irreparable loss of a child.

Throughout Fanny's traumatic labor, her mother, Dorcas, stayed by her side. After 72 hours of excruciating pain, their family transported Fanny from their island home to the mainland by the only means they could afford—rowing in a canoe for six hours. Miraculously, both Fanny and her child survived. But she was left leaking urine uncontrollably.

Dorcas refused to give up on her daughter. A tenacious woman with an engaging personality, Dorcas poured all of her energy into finding a cure. She visited doctors, chiefs, and anyone with influence in the community. When they couldn't help, she wouldn't take "no" for an answer. Dorcas had anticipated a bright future for Fanny, and refused to believe that her daughter was incurable. 

Finally, they heard a radio announcement about a condition called obstetric fistula. One month later, Fanny was on her way to Mansa General Hospital, a partner in Fistula Foundation's nationwide treatment network in Zambia. There, she received life-changing repair surgery.

Today, Fanny and Dorcas are both outspoken fistula advocates in their community. They want to make sure no other woman is forced to suffer the way that Fanny did. 


Fanny and Dorcas’ story is the first installment of our new series, in celebration of Mother’s Day 2018: “A Mother’s Love.”

Each year, thousands of would-be mothers are able to receive care through Fistula Foundation. Not a single surgery would be possible without supporters like you. To say thanks, we’ll be sharing special stories with you between now and Mother’s Day— stories of mothers who are standing up to obstetric fistula around the world.

Stay tuned for the next installment!


Ahana Gunderson

Ahana Gunderson
Chief of Staff and Director of Strategic Initiatives


We believe that no woman should suffer a life of isolation and misery simply for trying to bring a child into the world, which is why we are dedicated to ending the suffering caused by obstetric fistula. We're working with local partners in more than 20 countries, funding more fistula repair surgeries worldwide than any other organization. Based in San Jose, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley, Fistula Foundation is honored to have received 12 consecutive four-star ratings from Charity Navigator; only 1 percent of charities have received this designation.

We receive the highest rating from every industry watchdog group.

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Fistula Foundation
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(408) 249-9596

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