Dr Saboohi Mehdi is one of Pakistan’s 38 surgeons who are
trained to repair fistulas, but few of these 38 surgeons work in this
field. “It pays no money, so most don’t want to pursue this. But I
can’t do anything but this.”
Sheher Bano doesn’t know her age but seems not older than 15.
“Doctors say I will be cured soon,” she says, and giggles with
excitement at the prospect of being dry.
Six-years-old Salma has accompanied her elder sister Sheher
Bano from a small village in Thatta district, accompanied by their
mother Jannat and sister 6 years. “We hope to go back home soon.”
3. Jannat Bibi, mother of Sheher Bano and Salma, is their
strength. Statistically, fistula patients get unconditional support
from their mothers even if husbands and relatives desert them.
8. Pretty Gul Dana, from Balochistan, in her 20s, developed
during birth of her first baby’s birth. She uses her nimble fingers
making key chains and necklaces with tiny red and white beads.
Koohi Goth Hospital is a complete free of charge facility for
under-privileged patients of this debilitating condition, and was
built in 2005 as Pakistan’s only hospital built to treat patients of
These young girls in pink from the vicinity of the hospital
are under training to eventually becomes midwives. “Baaji do you like
Balochi people?” one of them asks. “Will you put our pictures on
Facebook? Please do.”
Support and counselling is a part of the treatment for socially
stigmatized fistula patients. A single touch and a kind word can heal.
Fouzia from Sialkot, developed a fistula in her first child’s
birth, and has given birth to another 3 children since then. “I am so
excited! Doctors say once I heal, I will be able to say my namaz. I
have not been able to pray in the last 7 years”.
Naz Bibi from Dera Bugti, Balochistan, has been suffering from
the condition for nine years. “Everyone left me but my husband. On way
to Karachi, travelling was tough in the bus because fellow passengers
were disgusted with my stench. I hope that will be over soon.”
“When they reach us they are drenched in urine. The first
thing we do is give them a shower,” says the dedicated Noor Gul, a
senior nurse at the hospital who is now trained enough to not only
deliver simple cases of child birth, but also train others.
This young midwife in the making from Koohi Goth area has
learnt a lot since she came here. “I go back home and raise awareness
among my people.”
40-years-old Rihana’s case is complicated. “I have forgotten
what a normal life is. All I have done the last four years is wash
clothes. Everyone told my husband to leave me but he did not”. Her
eyes well up in gratitude.