A Reason To Smile

Eighteen-year-old Fanjakely arrived at the Mercy Ships patient screening with total despair in her eyes and hopelessness on her face.

She had always dreamed of being a mother. At the age of 15, she married a handsome farmer, and life seemed perfect.

However, her fairytale came to an abrupt end when she tried to deliver her first child. After three days of excruciatingly obstructed labour, Fanjakely needed to go the hospital.

Leaving early in the morning, she travelled with her husband all day by boat and by bus, while still in labour, passing out two hours before they reached the nearest hospital. It was there that she finally delivered her son, Antonio.

But the next morning she discovered the misery wasn’t over. “After I stood up, the urine flowed out. It was flowing plenty … it would not stop. I was sad because I thought I would never get healthy because I have no money for surgery.”

Fanjakely is one of many women in developing countries who suffer from obstetric fistula. But, in the midst of the horror, she was grateful for three miracles. First, while many women give birth to a stillborn child, she had a healthy baby boy. Second, often women with obstetric fistula are abandoned by their husbands, but Fanjakely’s husband never stopped loving her.

And a radio announced the third miracle – a hospital ship was coming to provide free surgeries! After one and a half years of suffering and shame, a free surgery gave Fanjakely healing and joy.

Now, Fanjakely can continue her life. She said, “I want to build a home … and to be happy with my husband and son.” She’s looking forward to swimming in the beautiful Madagascar waters again and going back to one of her favourite places – church. With a sweet smile, she added, “I am really grateful. I am fortunate.”