Help Her Live

Maternal mortality is nothing short of an epidemic. Worldwide, hundreds of thousands of women die from complications during pregnancy or childbirth every year. That's one woman dying nearly every minute of every day. And, millions more are left with life-altering disabilities.


Read how Loko busts this myth

Loko was born in Gadda Kebele in Ethiopia. After her father passed away, her older brother sold her into child marriage at the age of 12. Her husband was a 62-year-old widower and father of five children. He was not able to provide for his family, leaving them destitute and hungry.

At 14, Loko became pregnant with her first child. After three days of painful, unproductive labor, Loko was finally taken to a doctor in her village. Unable to treat her, Loko was sent to another hospital, only to be turned away. Finally, she was referred to Yirgalem Hospital, which had the proper surgical facilities, and Loko was able to deliver her child. By this time, Loko had been in labor for several days and the child was stillborn. In addition to the pain of losing her child, Loko's difficult labor and delivery caused damage to her bladder and bowel, making her incontinent.

Although Loko was able to regain control of her bowel, she remained incontinent of her bladder for seven years. This condition, which caused a horrible stench, turned Loko into an outcast.The only support she found was from her sister,who stood by her through Loko's hardship.

"I finally had one daughter but could not predict what her future would be like," Loko said. "At this time I really felt powerless, and every day and night I burst into tears. I prayed to my God every day to help me recover from this misery. I swore that if ever I got any type of treatment which makes me feel like a woman again, I will spread this message to the community: 'Never let any woman of the community suffer from the problem I faced.'"

Loko's hope was renewed when members of CARE's Healthy Unions program, upon hearing of her case, paid a visit. Soon after, they took her to Hageremariam Hospital where the medical staff determined that Loko was suffering from a fistula, which is a tear between the bladder and the vagina, a common result of a severe or failed childbirth. CARE's Healthy Unions members arranged for Loko to be taken to a hospital where she received the appropriate treatment. After a 14-day stay, Loko was able to walk again after her surgery and, more importantly, was cured of her incontinence.

"This was more than I had ever dreamt about. Healthy Unions project reached me and really made me feel again as a human being equal to the others." Today, Loko works on promoting awareness in her community about harmful traditional practices, especially early marriage.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Goma Achary