Wednesday, September 28, 2005

reality check

At times I feel few things have an affect on me, hardly anything can give me a sickening physical reaction or make me cry. You know, you just get numb somehow. Then I read a follow-up story about fistulas and the plight of women in Africa that includes this anecdote:

"Dr. Waaldijk remembers one patient well. She managed to push out only her baby's head before collapsing from exhaustion in her hut, he said. Her brother carried her, balanced on a donkey, to a road, where a bus driver demanded 10 times the usual fare to take her to a hospital. She half-stood, half-sat for the trip, her dead baby's head between her legs, her urethra ripped open."

The story ends with:

"To be a woman in Africa," Dr. Waaldijk said as he stitched her last sutures, "is truly a terrible thing."

It's a simple operation for something that has been unheard of in the West for over a century. If women weren't forced to marry so young, often before even menstruating, then they wouldn't have babies when their bodies are undeveloped and have a fistula. Or if they lived where Caesarian sections were feasible.

How do we help these women? That's what I need to know.


At 11:12 AM, Anonymous Katya Matanovic said...

Thank you for bringing added awareness to this terrible condition by including it in your blog. To me, it is just not acceptable for any woman to suffer from fistula, particularly because it is so preventable and easy to fix.

I am glad you asked how we can help these women. Although it will take many, many years of work from many organizations, fistula can be irradicated. As proof, it was virtually irradicated in the States by the late 1800s. Part of the solution is preventing fistulas by increasing awareness, access to skilled birth attendants, access to family planning solutions. And Part of it is providing surgeries for women who are suffering from the condition. The Campaign to End Fistula has a comprehensive look at preventing and curing fistulas.

I am the co-founder of a volunteer initiative, One By One, that is raising awareness and funds for the UN Population Fund's Campaign to End Fistula. As the article points out, $300 is all it costs to bring a woman suffering from this tragic and debilitating condition back to life. One By One uses a giving circle model, where one leader gives $30 and then asks nine friends, family members, neighbors or co-workers to do the same. Together the circle raises $300 - enough money to cover the care for one woman with fistula.

Since our launch in April we have raised over $20,000, enough money to care for 65 women with fistula.

You can learn more about fistula and One By One at

At 11:16 AM, Blogger Jerry said...

Well, there you go. Blog and you will get an answer.

I, for one, am gonna check out the site.


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