Women who have suffered an obstetric fistula injury and have had the surgical repair at the project’s hospital still need a way to provide for themselves and to reintegrate with the families and neighbors. These women recruit two women neighbors to help them build a shed for the pig. The post-fistula women receive training in how to care for pigs and how to raise and sell piglets for income. Pigs are fairly easy to raise. They eat almost anything, and the sheds are more simple to construct than the cow sheds.
When the shed is properly constructed and training is complete, the project provides a Living Loan of a female piglet to the post fistula woman, plus six months of feed and vaccinations and preventives to keep the pig healthy. A visit from a boar is planned, and in time the female pig is pregnant. (If a post fistula woman requests an alternative animal due to religious reasons, this request is accommodated with either chickens or a goat.)
When the first litter of piglets arrives, the post-fistula woman hands over one female piglet each to her helpers. They, in turn, pay forward one female piglet out of their first litters back to the project. These piglets are raised at the project’s breeding center farm, and are one source of sustainability. Female piglets from the breeding center will be the source for future living loans to more post-fistula women.
The remaining piglets in the litter are the “business” for the post-fistula woman. She can sell them at market and use the resulting income to provide food for herself and any family she has, to improve her homestead, and to plan for the future. It is estimated that in these conditions, her sow could produce two litters of piglets each year. Further, the economic benefit to her two helpers is an encouragement for them to get to know the post-fistula woman, and join in a friendship.
A typical litter produces 10-12 piglets. If each of these is sold at market for $10 USD, the owner of the piggery can realize $120. If her piggery produces two litters per year, she can earn $240 per year, averaging $20 per month or 65 cents per day. Better than zero, but still pretty modest. This can improve over time if the woman raises additional females to produce more litters. There is hope.
100 post fistula women are in training and will soon be ready to receive living loans of piglets. As they move into the income project phase, another 100 post-fistula women will be trained.
Currently there are 140,000-200,000 women in Uganda who are living with an obstetric fistula, an injury that occurs during childbirth when the baby quite literally becomes stuck and presses against internal tissues. These tissues, deprived of oxygen, die and leave a hole, causing incontinence and smell. Most of the babies in this situation die. So the woman has lost her child, suffered a humiliating injury, and becomes rejected or isolated from family and neighbors. How does she provide for herself? How does she regain a sense of dignity? An estimated 2,000 new injuries occur each year in Uganda, and the Masaka area proportionately is represented in these numbers. In Masaka, Uganda alone, there recurrently an estimated 7,000-10,000 women who have suffered an obstetric fistula. An estimated new 100 women suffer an obstetric injury each year in this area.
Vincentia has ten children, including two sets of twins. In 1980, her 7th pregnancy resulted in an obstetric fistula injury, and she lost that child. Vincentia knew of a surgery that could heal her, but she did not believe she could afford it until she heard a radio announcement for Kitovu Hospital, which operates a fistula surgery camp four times per year. Vincentia received treatment at Kitovu in 2013. Since then, she joined the Piglet Living Loan Project, and has recruited two women who have become her good friends and who are her support system.