Lili became the wife of a man in the desert countryside of southwestern Angola when she became a woman. She was not his first wife, but one of several. When she was 14, she became pregnant. However, the delivery was obstructed and after many days, the family realized they needed help. They took her to the coast to a hospital in the provincial capital. Afterwards, Lili began leaking. At age 18, someone told the family about the mission hospital at CEML. So the family group travelled to Lubango, and asked if she could be treated. When Lili arrived at CEML, she told the staff that the baby had died, and showed them the scar on her abdomen. As it turned out, her uterus had also been removed.
Communication was difficult because none of the hospital staff speak the Mukubal language; this people group has been quite isolated. One of the CEML employees speaks Herero, a similar language from Namibia, the country to the south, so at least some information could be exchanged.
Much was new for Lili. She had to learn to deal with a colostomy and was encouraged by another young woman who already had one. Lili soon became very adept at caring for her stoma and learned some words of Portuguese and Umbundu. The staff had lots of fun teaching her to write her name, something she had never tried before.
Her aunt was helping her by bringing water, and was shown that she could get hot water from the tap. She was astonished and shouted excitedly as she had never seen hot water coming from a tap before. Between surgeries, the family camped near the hospital, as Lili describes her home as being a very long way away.
Now her colostomy has been reversed; her several fistulas have been repaired and she is dry! She nearly jumped out of bed with joy when she was able to leave the hospital.