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A Renewed Opportunity to Pursue Her Dreams

Despite the hardship she has endured, Tazi Alphonsine Belle Fille has a lively spirit and beautiful smile. She is the eldest of four girls whose father passed away, and she was just 14 years old when she became pregnant.

Globally, pregnancy- and childbirth-related complications are the leading cause of death for girls aged 15–19. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo alone, more than one-fourth (27%) of women of this age have children or are currently pregnant, and this rate is even higher among adolescents living in the poorest households. Nationally, just 6.5% of women or their partners are using modern contraceptives.

Belle Fille became pregnant after befriending a builder she met on her way to and from school; at the time, she had no knowledge of modern contraception. His family supported her throughout the pregnancy, and despite receiving a cesarean section during her delivery, her baby died four days later and she developed an obstetric fistula that left her completely incontinent.

If Belle Fille had had access to contraception, her trauma from pregnancy and obstetric fistula would have been prevented. Access to contraception remains a challenge in many countries in the world, and as a consequence, the health and future of girls like Belle Fille is at risk.

Sadly, Belle Fille’s story is similar to those of many other young girls. Fortunately for Belle Fille, a nurse at the hospital counseled her about fistula repair surgery and referred her to services provided at the Saint Joseph Hospital in Kinshasa, which is implemented by EngenderHealth through Fistula Care Plus, the largest fistula repair project supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

An important part of the project is prevention of another fistula or unplanned pregnancy, and Belle Fille received comprehensive counseling on contraception in relation to her surgery. She had a successful surgical repair and opted to receive a long-acting contraceptive before returning to her village. She has managed to complete a second grade education thus far and is now planning to resume her studies next year.

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