Safe Motherhood Ambassadors serve as activists of fistula prevention and as the “voices” of the women. They help to challenge gender issues. Communities found the SMAs’ testimonies and fistula information to be credible, valid, and trustworthy since the fistula survivors speak from their own experiences. The SMAs help to identify new fistula cases and pregnant mothers, bridging the community with local health system and local authorities. The data shows that births attended by skilled health professionals have sharply increased in the last four years.
SMA Abrehet Tela:
Abrehet Tela was married when she was 11. She became pregnant when she was 16 and it was this childbirth that left her with a rectovaginal fistula. “I faced fistula at my first pregnancy,” Abrehet told us. “The good thing is my daughter survived. So I am not alone. I stayed with fistula for 17 years. I was crying and completely stressed. I lost my energy, appetite and concentration. I never went to church or any public festivals for 17 years. I was hiding myself. I was begging God to die. I felt as if I was a useless person. My husband was really good, though he was sick and passed away when my daughter was 2 months old. My relatives treated me very badly. They isolated me. They rented a house for me but never came back to visit, and left with me with no money to pay for it. However, my neighbors were helpful. They gave me food and their used clothes and shoes.”
One day, her daughter heard about fistula and its treatment while she was watching Television at a neighbor’s home and realized that there is a cure for her mother’s illness. She asked a neighbor to take her mother to a hospital.
And now, 30 year-old Abrehet Tela is an inspirational Safe Motherhood Ambassador, working tirelessly as an advocate for maternal health and serving as a means of joy for so many women in her village. She has identified 4 new fistula cases and is willing to walk for hours to reach these women. Abrehet says, “I walked for 7 hours on foot to get Teberih Negash [a new case]… I heard about her in the market from her neighbors and, though it is far, I decided to visit her. Teberih had been living with fistula for 12 years.”
- Has educated 210 pregnant women
- 135 of these women have delivered at health institutions and 72 are still in ANC follow-up.
- Has taught 41 non-pregnant mothers about family planning and nutrition
- has held 20 group education sessions for community members