True Story: Mariama Boubacar


Name: Mariama Boubacar

Age: 25 years

Origin: A hamlet near Ouallam, in the west of Niger

I was married at 15 and pregnant at 17. Unfortunately, that first baby died through lack of assistance. It was only on the third day of labour that the baby came into the world lifeless. At the end of my second pregnancy I ended up with fistula because no-one helped me during birth.

My labour lasted two days, during which I was in bed alone in my room. It was only on the third day that I was taken to a health centre and they kept me another two days before telephoning Ouallam, from where an ambulance came to fetch me. Five days after the labour the fistula appeared. When this started, the wise woman kept me a week before transferring me to Dimol (a maternal health NGO) in Niamey.

I needed four operations to recover my health. Since I arrived the NGO has looked after everything: my lodging, my food, my clothes, my everyday needs and offered me training in knitting, sewing, French and Arabic – as well as my surgery. Now, God be thanked, I am cured and I am in perfect health.

The first thing I will do when I return to the village will be to raise the community’s awareness of the dangers of early marriage and the need to send girls to school. I’m also going to talk to the pregnant women about the importance of prenatal and postnatal care, which mean the health of the mother and the child is looked after and make it possible for people to intervene quickly if there’s a problem. And I’d tell them that when the pregnancy comes to term, you need to go quickly to a health centre for the delivery.

I’m also hoping, though, that the skills I’ve learned at the Dimol centre will mean I’ll be able to earn some money by my own activities that will make me a bit more financially independent.

(Read the full article by Ousseini Issa at NewIntenationalist)

Mariama’s story is bitter-sweet. As she said, thank God she’s okay now.

There is something that each and every one of us can do to help the women and children of third world nations, who do not have access to health care facilities. That’s what The Sunflower Effect is all about.

Here are three things you can do right now to help women like Ousseini and those living at Mercy House.

1. Next time you go to the park, take a flask and make your own coffee instead of buying one. Save up the change and donate it to Mercy House throughThe Sunflower Effect (click here for secure donations).

2. Read more about Dimol, the NGO helping Mariama. Educating ourselves is a huge key to making a difference!

3. Visit the NewInternationalist site and grab a magazine subscription. It’s a really good way of keeping in touch with the rest of the world – before all the details are put through our Australian media masher.

Today, can you commit to doing one of these three simple things? Let me know how you go..

See you tomorrow!


*The Sunflower Effect supports the work of The Mercy House Kenya and Kristen Welch (


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