Since Edu-vision International Services (FCE) was set up in 2001, we have extended our services to other states in Nigeria. The practices and way of life of Nigerians in the north part of the country are quite primitive.
Some girls get married as early as 13 years of age, in fact many of them get their first period after having moved into their husband’s house. Since these girls are not completely physically developed, they often develop complication during pregnancy. Most of them also have difficult and prolonged labor. To add to their precarious situation, there are usually no nearby hospitals where they can receive a cesarean section if necessary, so the baby sometimes dies during birth. There have been cases of mothers carrying still babies around in the birth canal for as long as three days!
Such circumstances lead to a high rate of Vesico Vaginal Fistulas (VVF). One of the symptoms of VVF is a constant dribbling of urine down their legs – acute weak bladder, wetting their clothes and the accompanying smell makes them outcasts.
Three hospitals were set up in this region by a Dutch volunteer doctor to help women with cases of VVF. As many as 8 operations for VVF cases per busy day are performed there. Some of the girls who have come down with this infection, and treated as outcasts, still have no place to return to after an operation. Numbers of them are just hanging around the hospital doing nothing. Many of them turn to prostitution.
Even after they have been treated physically through an operation, the emotional and mental trauma that follows is not attended to. FCE personnel assist during their operations and help supply this need.
Through a sponsorship of the Japanese Embassy, we constructed a vocational training center and hostel for VVF patients in Zaria, in the northern part of Nigeria.
While in Zaria, we interviewed a young woman who received a medical procedure for VVF in 2000. Since then she had two children and was pregnant with the third one which could have resulted in VVF. She managed to get a little money to transport herself to the hospital for a check up where they discovered some complications. This young woman was so poor that she did not even have enough money to transport herself back to her village which was about 15kms from the hospital. She was anticipating walking back to her village. She was eight months and three weeks pregnant. The VVF nurse in charge had to give her transport money to journey her back home by public transport. Her case was presented to the hospital management, who helped her by delivering her baby through caesarean section.
Many women in villages around the northern part of Nigeria face the same dilemma. They are aware of complications in their pregnancy, but don’t have enough money to visit the nearest hospital.
The matron of VVF ward in the hospital informed us that the hospital receives a minimum of two VVF patients a day. Some have been rejected by their family and have nowhere to go after surgery. She further said that many of the VVF cases could have been avoided if the women in this part of the country were well informed through an awareness campaign. Even if there are campaigns, the level of poverty in this area makes women stay away from hospitals where they could go for check-ups during pregnancy.
Our goal is to help train some of these women in vocations to help empower them toward a better life.