The birth of a child should be a joyous occasion.  Complications occur during childbirth and with little medical attention, women in developing nations can often be left with medical issues that start a downward spiral into pain, loneliness and further poverty.

For those without access to routine medical or surgical care during and after delivery, chronic medical issues such as vesicovaginal fistulas and rectovaginal fistulas can lead to spousal abandonment and community ostracism. These medical problems are relatively unknown in western countries where cesarean sections are widely available. They occur during prolonged or difficult labors, and they can have devastating physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences.

Mercy Ships doctors, nurses and other caring volunteers provide a holistic approach to treatment. In addition to medical treatment, we shower them with love, acceptance and head-to-toe healing.

Mercy Ships has a special way of celebrating their return to society: We hold a ceremony and give each woman a new dress that symbolizes her beauty. The women also leave the ship with follow-up instructions and knowledge to take back to other women in their communities.

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Gisele was a young woman, married and looking forward to the birth of her child. Today she is 48, divorced and childless.

With emergency obstetric care, her life would have been very different. The pain of losing her son in childbirth and her obsteric fistula as a result of a difficult labour led to years of physical pain and anguish. This is her story.