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Nigeria: Suhaibu’s story

I met Suhaibu, who lives in Northern Nigeria, on a recent trip. He is a respected religious leader in Jibia (a town in Katsina state in Northern Nigeria) and also a Koranic school teacher who teaches children how to read and write in Arabic through the study of the Quran. He lost his wife and baby due to complications during childbirth. This is his story about what happened.

“My late wife was in labour. By practice and tradition I wrote out parts of the holy Quran, washed it off and gave her the water to drink, so as to ease the delivery. She gave birth quickly, but to a dead baby.

Shortly after the delivery, she started bleeding. Meanwhile, we washed the baby and buried him. On my way back from the cemetery, somebody came to tell me that I was urgently needed at home. I rushed back home and found my wife was bleeding massively. I carried her to the hospital. When we reached the hospital the doctor examined her and said that her veins were collapsed because of the excessive bleeding. During the process of trying to give her a blood transfusion, she gave up and passed away. She was 35 years old.

Even on the day she died, my wife seemed healthy. She even cooked for us. One wouldn’t imagine that she would die that day. She often had malaria during her pregnancy, but she used to get better after a while. Sometimes I bought drugs from the pharmacist nearby and gave them to her. She didn’t go to the hospital for check-ups or antenatal health treatments but this was the case for all her previous deliveries. She was assisted by her aunt, for the last delivery.

This is my story. I’ve lost my wife and my baby on the same day. Even though this happened ten weeks ago but I’m still deeply affected. She has left me with three children. The eldest is 12 and the youngest is two. The two boys are with me and I am looking after them. The girl is with her mother’s sister in Katsina and I try to see her everyday to make sure she is OK. That’s the way we’re managing life.”

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