Celebrating 100 Surgeries: Turngo's Story

Turngo was isolating herself from friends, family and community when she heard whispers of a place that could help her.

So she started walking.

It took her three hours to walk from her home to the Bucama Health Clinic. She didn’t want to tell her husband the real reason why she was going – a prolapsed uterus – so she said it was about a backache.

“I’m sick and I’m in pain,” she told her family.

Her fourth degree prolapse was so severe she spent 15 days at the clinic. Turngo’s uterus was hanging so far outside her body that she wore multiple pairs of underwear to try and keep it contained and allow her to walk normally.

 When she spoke about her surgery to correct a prolapsed uterus, Turngo raised her arms and thanked God. Religion is a huge part of life in Ethiopia, and all of the women we spoke with told us of desperately praying for God to take away the pain and shame of the condition.

When she spoke about her surgery to correct a prolapsed uterus, Turngo raised her arms and thanked God. Religion is a huge part of life in Ethiopia, and all of the women we spoke with told us of desperately praying for God to take away the pain and shame of the condition.

“The infection was very painful,” she told us. She tried washing herself, but the condition gave her a nasty odour. It filled Turngo with shame, so much so that she would turn away instead of greeting people.

It was heartbreaking to hear her describe this time in her life.

“I didn’t have anyone to help me,” she said. “With the smell, how can I go on? Even my body looked like not mine.”

The prolapsed caused her such pain that she resorted to crouching on all fours when she was cooking. It was the only position that she could bear. She was deeply depressed.

The surgery to correct her prolapsed uterus gave Turngo back her sense of self.

I can wear what I want, I can go help where I want. I can talk to my neighbour.
— Turngo, on the results of her surgery

“I can walk, I can even run. I can sit, I can stand. My body, I can control. It is my own,” she said.

And the operation helped her get rid of the odour that was causing such shame.

“Now I am happy to sit with people, to meet with people and greet them,” said the mother of seven.

She said her body smells like perfume.

“I can wear what I want, I can go help where I want. I can talk to my neighbour,” Turngo said.

“Everything is new. This life is new.”

Thank you, Turngo, for your perseverance, your courage, and your newly rediscovered zest for life.