A beacon of hope and support for Tanzania’s most vulnerable women
For the past 15 years, Theodora Millinga, affectionately known to her patients and colleagues as Mama Millinga, has been the driving force behind CCBRT’s hugely successful rehabilitation program for fistula patients. Through years of dedication and compassionate care, Mama Millinga has successfully changed the lives of thousands of women when they were at their most vulnerable.
Initially trained as a nurse midwife, Mama Millinga’s compassionate nature made her the perfect candidate for her current role as counselor, health educator, and holistic care coordinator.
“Before I became a counselor I was treating patients in very difficult circumstances. I didn’t know where to start or the right thing to say. After I trained in counselling I had the skills required to sit with a patient and address difficult issues. Being a counselor made me a better nurse.”
A holistic approach to patient care
Mama Millinga is responsible for the full spectrum of rehabilitative care for obstetric fistula patients both before and after surgery at CCBRT. Utilizing various techniques, including physiotherapy, art, music, group and individual counselling Mama Millinga addresses not only the physical effects of fistula, but also the emotional and psychological impact of years of loss, rejection, and marginalization.
“When I see women who have been abandoned or beaten by their husbands, excluded by their families, it hurts me a lot.”
Despite hearing heartbreaking stories on a daily basis, Mama Millinga’s bright smile emerges when speaking about her patients and their successful recoveries. Her devotion to each patient extends beyond their time at CCBRT, as she keeps in touch with women she has worked with, eager to hear about their progress.
“There have been many memorable patients, but Ashura sticks in my mind. She has a physical disability, and developed a fistula during childbirth. I feared that Ashura’s disability would make the healing process more difficult. It made the surgery and treatment more complicated. But her surgery was successful. She fell pregnant sometime after her surgery, and called me. She followed the instructions; she delivered by C-Section and had a healthy baby. She fell pregnant a second time, with twins! It was another safe delivery. Now she has three healthy children.”
With International Women’s Day just two weeks from today, we are thrilled to celebrate Mama Millinga’s incredible legacy of healing and hope.
Stay tuned over the next two weeks for more stories profiling the incredible women we have the honor of working with and meeting at Kupona Foundation. These women demonstrate that change is not only possible, it is happening – building stronger communities and creating better futures for women and families in Tanzania.