Danja Fistula Center Brings Hope
Salome is the first person in her Nigerien family to attend school.

Niger in West Africa

Salome is the first person in her Nigerien family to attend school.

"I came from a very poor family and I have worked hard to say that I'm the best student in my family," she said.

Her determination had twice earned her the top student award in her school. While she excelled in a variety of subjects, it had been her aspiration to become a doctor since primary school. However, these plans got side-tracked in the first year of her secondary school studies. During a school break she went to visit her grandmother's village. As in customary in some parts of the country, Salome and her sister were subjected to female circumcision by family members.

The surgery left lasting physical ailments for Salome, and because of her incontinence and shame she was not able to return to school.

"I was crying day to night," she said. "Crying crying, and I was missing my studies."

For six months she went to a doctor and took medicine, without any effect. Not prepared to give up, she continued seeking a cure. Through a series of hospital referrals, she finally arrived at SIM's Danja Fistula Center (DFC) in Niger. Her life was about to change for the better.

"I was so very happy," she said about the friendly care she received in her three weeks at DFC. She underwent a successful reconstruction surgery and was ecstatic to return home to continue her studies.

Her goal attainable once again, the experience at DFC has further confirmed Salome's desire to become a doctor.

About SIM's Danja Fistula Center

Danja Fistula Center is part of SIM's Danja Health and Leprosy Center. It offers care to women suffering from obstetric fistula and related ailments. For eligible patients, the care is fully subsidized by SIM. DFC provides life-changing procedures to hundreds of women each year from Niger and surrounding countries.

Patients are also offered vocational training. Close to 200 women have so far graduated from the residential vocational training program. Students are offered training is skills such as basic literacy, embroidery, sewing and knitting, agriculture, health/hygiene and business. Twice a week a missionary psychologist provides on-site trauma healing groups, meeting their emotional needs as well.

DFC seeks to offer prevention initiatives in addition to treatment of obstetric fistula. Niger has one of the highest teen marriage rates in the world. DFC seeks to educate and equip the public to prevent the circumstances leading to these debilitating and often lethal ailments.

The ministry relies completely on donations to offer these life-changing services to the women of Niger and beyond.