The story of Nampayio Koriata: 12 years of hell trying to avoid going for a long call

Nampayio Koriata      PHOTOS:ROBERT KIPLAGAT
  • Imagine the shame of being unable to control your bowels and passing stool in public.
  • Nampayio Koriata tells Robert Kiplagat that she had to endure that after getting fistula following a prolonged labour and giving birth at a tender age

How was it like growing up?

I was adopted to the Koriata family at Ololung’a in Narok South at the age of two years. My life was normal until the age of 13 when I underwent FGM and later got pregnant. I am now a proud mother of five

How did your life change?

When I was in Standard Six we were informed that we were to undergo FGM as it was a ‘normal’ rite of passage. I was very excited as I was now set to transit from childhood to ‘womanhood’ to the point I even failed in my examinations.

What happened after you underwent the rite?

I went back to school where all was well until I got a boyfriend and later got pregnant while in Standard Eight.

Did you give birth in hospital or at home?

Being in a society where traditional midwives were highly regarded, my mother recommended that I give birth at home. Because I was still just a girl, it wasn’t easy. I had a prolonged labour that changed my life.

How did you come to know that you had fistula?

After giving birth,a goat was slaughtered and I was fed well and that is when I started realising that I cannot control my bowels. I asked my mother about it and she told me that all was well as it was ‘normal’ for women who give birth. Since it was my first child and she was my mother,I believed her and life moved on.

Did you continue with your education after giving birth?

Yes. I passed well and managed to join Ndaraweta Girls Secondary School in Bomet. It was hell on earth for me, because I feared that people will discover I had fistula.

How did you managed to survive?

Since the situation was being triggered by eating, I started cutting down on food intake so that I do not embarrass myself. I became malnourished and lost a lot of weight. My school performance was also affected.

So, did you complete your secondary education?

No. By the time I was in Form Two,I had lost hope and just wanted to give birth to more children as quick as possible because I believed I was going to die.That’s when I got my second pregnancy in 2008 after getting married.

How did your husband react to your condition?

My husband never got to know of my condition as I kept it a secret. At no point did he suspect that I was suffering from fistula.

How did you eventually get assistance?

In 2013, after 11 years of suffering, a guardian angel came to my life. We were at a family event when in company of my sisters,I accidentally passed stool and it left them shocked. One of my colleagues who is a nurse asked me why and I answered that it was ‘normal’.She immediately took me to Kenyatta National Hospital(KNH) where I got the corrective surgery.

Having been a victim of fistula, what are you doing to assist women who could be suffering in silence like you?

After the surgery, my life came back to normal. I felt renewed and that is when I realised that many women within my community could be suffering ignorantly. I formed an anti-fistula organisation called Nguzo Africa , through which we have assisted over 10 victims of fistula.

What are some of the challenges you face in the fight against fistula?

First, there is the lack of resources. My organisation have no funds, which makes it hard to penetrate in remote villages in search of women with fistula and to transport them to Nairobi for surgery. Another thing is the culture, because women are still afraid and embarrassed to speak up.