We are pleased to introduce you to our quilters. All are fistula survivors who have been surgically repaired. None had ever picked up a hand sewing needle before joining QFE. This photo of their first class learning basic embroidery stitches is a testimony to how hard they work.
Thanks to their perseverance and the instruction of our Program Director, Norah Otondo, the women have made remarkable progress in a short time and are now laughing and enjoying quilting together.
Being able to see has also made a big difference. Reading glasses sent from the US has helped two women. As one said “Before I was not able to set the thread in the needle with my bare eyes, but now I can.”
We are thankful for the dedication of these remarkable women and look forward to seeing how they will express themselves in their quilts.
Here are the stories of some of our quilters.
Norah was born in 1998, the last born of a family of six. She finished high school in 2017 but was sent home to get school fees, which her parents could not afford. With her quilting income, she has now paid the school fees and is enrolled in college to become a teacher. She also maintains a flock of chickens.
Esther was born in 1992 and is married with four children. She got her fistula in 2011 with her first child while single. When the baby was two months old her sister-in-law organized her marriage to her brother, but never disclosed that Esther had a fistula. Luckily, he was mature and when she explained her condition, he accepted her. A year later after hearing about fistula repair on the radio, Esther had successful surgery. However, she acknowledges life was very hard when she was leaking and she isolated herself. She is starting a small business with her QFE income.
Tabitha was born in 1959 and has been a widow since 2012. She has six children. She got her fistula in 2017 and leaked both urine and stool. It was so stressful that she developed high blood pressure. She was desperate. Fortunately, a colleague where Tabitha worked as a trained early childhood teacher asked why she was so sad and had grown so thin. After Tabitha told her colleague about her fistula, arrangements were made to have it treated in February 2018.
Everlyne was born in 1998 and is single. She got her fistula in 2017 after a long labor and a cesarean delivery of a stillborn. She leaked stool for about three months before being repaired. Her family has had mixed reactions about her condition. Her life has been difficult, but with the support of other QFE survivors, she has finally found acceptance. She is investing her QFE income in buying and selling fish.
Carol was born in 1987. She is married with one surviving child shown in the photo. She got her fistula in 2014 and the child died. She suffered greatly and her husband left her. She went back to her parent’ home until she received treatment. She returned to her marital home after being treated. Carol is our primary seamstress and an extremely hard worker. She has bought goats and a cow with her QFE income.
Lornah lived with her fistula for 10 years before being repaired. The baby, her third, was stillborn. She is grateful to be back in her community and attending church. She hopes to build a home on her land with her income.
Grace’s beautiful smile hides a lot of suffering. She has one living child after giving birth three times. She leaked for 8 years before having several unsuccessful surgeries to repair her fistula. She is saving her income to buy land.
Rose got her fistula as a result of gynecological surgery. She Is one of our song-leaders who gets us on our feet with her beautiful voice. She plans to use her income to invest in a small business.
Nancy suffered 8 years with her fistula before being successfully treated. She has three children, two who are still in school. Paying their school fees is a high priority. She is investing her income in chickens and hopes to buy land in the future.
Metrine was born with a rectal fistula and was never able to attend public school. She has completed a tailoring program and is one of our two seamstresses as well as the house matron for our young sexual assault survivors. She has bought a cow with her income.
Vicody got her obstetrical fistula when very young and the baby died. She finished high school and is using her QFE income to begin a certificate course in general agriculture.
Here is our current directory of quilters that includes all of our women.