Transforming lives in Ethiopia

Mayram turns three

Mayram’s circumcision opened her father’s eyes to the horror of female genital mutilation (FGM). For the first two years of Mayram’s life, her father, Muusa, fought to keep his daughter alive by regularly squeezing her bladder to relieve her.

Reading time: 3 min

Mayram’s circumcision opened her father’s eyes to the horror of female genital mutilation (FGM). For the first two years of Mayram’s life, her father, Muusa, fought to keep his daughter alive by regularly squeezing her bladder to relieve her.

“I will never let this happen to another girl.”

Mayram’s circumcision opened her father’s eyes to the horror of female genital mutilation (FGM). For the first two years of Mayram’s life, her father, Muusa, fought to keep his daughter alive by regularly squeezing her bladder to relieve her.

It was never going to be enough. The severity of the cuts to her vagina had caused deep scarring, permanently obstructing her urethra. However hard her father tried to empty her bladder, there would always be stagnant urine left behind, slowly poisoning her. Mayram was a very sick child.

Mayram’s condition worsens

Wherever I walked, I felt hot urine running down my legs. This was a very difficult time for me. I’d just lost a child in tragic circumstances and now I felt ashamed. My husband left me and married another woman. In my village, rumours circulated that I wouldn’t survive. All I could do was hide away in my mother’s hut, too afraid to show my face.

Not long after her second birthday, Mayram’s urinary tract became completely blocked. Her tiny belly became hard and distended and she was in severe and constant pain. The situation had become life threatening.

Help arrives just in time.

The family had been in regular contact with Hasna, an extension worker from APDA. Hasna had consistently recommended that they take Mayram to hospital. Whilst FGM is illegal in Ethiopia, the trust Hasna built with the family meant they were able to overcome their fear of prosecution for allowing FGM to be performed on their daughter and get her the help she so desperately needed.

This was a major breakthrough and came just in time. On arriving at the hospital, Mayram was given a general anaesthetic and a surgeon cut the FGM scar open. He cleaned the infected area underneath the scar and catheterised her to get the urine out. In Mayram’s case the catheter stayed in for three days to make sure that the urethra would not get blocked again.

Then, one day, a relative visited. She told me about a place that specialised in treating women with this injury: the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital. When I arrived at the hospital – which is supported by Ethiopiaid – surgeons performed a simple operation and cured my incontinence. That short procedure has changed my life completely. I’m part of the community again. Since then, I’ve given birth to a healthy son and set up a small business selling coffee. I have big plans for the future.”

Rewriting the story

Mayram is now three and can pass urine normally. But for so many other girls the ending to this story is often far more tragic – a blocked urethra fatal for the child concerned.

Mayram’s father sat with her through her entire surgical treatment. Afterwards he turned to the doctor and declared: “I will never let this happen to another girl.”

With your help, Ethiopian’s can make this a reality.

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