Do you guys ever read Aunt Becky over at Mommy Wants Vodka? If not, you really should. She’s hysterical, sometimes vulgar and crude (which of course is funny), sometimes writes from her heart about her feelings/experiences/problems, and can bring me to tears, and she’s wickedly witty and sarcastic. I may or may not have a bloggy crush on her.
She also created Band Back Together, a blog that is “…a place where we could all come to put our thoughts down. A group blog that we could share our struggles and our triumphs as we survived hell.” So if you’ve every dealt with depression, infertility, chronic illness, abuse, or any other type of hell, check out Band Back Together and maybe even post one of your stories there. You will be glad that you did.
So back to Aunt Becky…recently, she pulled an Internet prank that got her to #1 on Google if you searched for John Mayer. Read about it here because it’s not really important to my post today. She’s now trying to raise awareness for charities, and is pulling another prank…a positive prank…that she refers to as “Pulling A The David Cook For Charities“.
I decided to jump in and help raise awareness for The Fistula Foundation.
If you have never heard of a fistula, you’re probably wondering what a fistula is. According to The Fistula Foundation website, a fistula “is simply a hole between an internal organ and the outside world that should not exist.” Fistulas do not occur nearly as often in developed countries as they do in third world countries, however, they do still occur. The difference between fistulas that occur in the US, for example, and the Congo is that here fistulas can be treated and the women can heal. In the Congo (or Somalia, or Ethiopia, or Afghanistan), women who develop fistulas are “often abandoned by their husbands, rejected by their communities, and forced to live an isolated existence”.
The FAQ page of The Fistula Foundation website describes the two types of fistulas: obstetric fistulas develop when blood supply to the tissues of the vagina and the bladder (and/or rectum) is cut off during prolonged obstructed labor. The tissues die and a hole forms through which urine and/or feces pass uncontrollably. Traumatic fistulas are caused by sexual violence, with the same results at that of the obstetric fistulas.
The Fistula Foundation website details the major damage that fistulas create in a woman’s body, especially when not treated. Not only do women experience complete incontinence, some may develop nerve damage to the lower extremities. They also suffer profound psychological trauma resulting from their utter loss of status and dignity.
The Fistula Foundation also describes the consequences of fistula that are life altering when the injury goes unrepaired. In the Congo, to this day, rape is still being used as a tool of war. The result is often traumatic fistulas, that is holes in bladders, vagina and rectum that are caused by rape or attack using bayonets, wood, and even guns. The Fistula Foundation also mentions that Economist magazine “recently estimated that 80% of the fistula cases in the Congo were the result of sexual violence. For the women with the injury, they are still very much in need of treatment, and psychological counseling as well.”
The Fistula Foundation was founded as American Friends Foundation for Childbirth Injuries in 2000 by Richard Haas and his daughter Shaleece. In 1999, the Haases visited the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital and were moved by the oasis of healing created by Dr. Catherine Hamlin and her late husband, Dr. Reginald Hamlin. They returned to California and established a US-based non-profit dedicated to supporting the treatment and prevention activities of the Fistula Hospital. Since then, The Fistula Foundation has grown into one of the largest privately funded nonprofit organizations supporting fistula treatment globally.
In January 2004, The Oprah Winfrey Show invited Dr. Catherine Hamlin to speak about the plight of fistula patients in Ethiopia. Here is part of that particular show so that you can see for yourself and understand the devasting effects of fisutulas.
In the first six weeks after her appearance on the show, over 6,000 donors contributed $1.3 million through The Fistula Foundation to Dr. Hamlin’s cause. That spring, the Foundation changed its name to the Fistula Foundation to more succinctly describe the organization’s mission.
What really bothers me is that at Dr. Hamlin’s hospitals, it only takes $450 to provide a woman with a fistula repair operation, high-quality postoperative care, a new dress, and bus fare home. Four hundred and fifty dollars?! Most of us probably spend more than that on junk food, pedicures, or coffee every year! The Fistula Foundation understands that some of us cannot afford to donate money to their cause, and so The Fistula Foundation offers other ways for people to support the organization and the women they treat…you can check out the various ways to support The Fistula Foundation here.
I wish that I had $125 to donate to The Fistula Foundation because I would love to have one of their Dignity Bracelets, their gift to you for donating to their cause. Please, please check out The Fistula Foundation website to see how you can help. If you can’t help monetarily, you can help raise awareness. Direct friends and family to The Fistula Foundation website, or to this post. Retweet this post on Twitter. Like it on Stumble Upon. Do what you can to help spread the word.
One last thing, I did not pick The Fistula Foundation randomly. I know somebody that had an obstetric fistula. I have seen first hand the pain, shame, and isolation that a fistula can cause. She completely recovered after at least two years of hell dealing with it…keep in mind that she had some of the best medical doctors in the entire US helping her, and it was still that difficult to repair.
No woman should have to live with the shame and embarrasment that fistulas cause. The Fistula Foundation is doing amazing work for women who might otherwise be forced to live with a gaping hole and uncontrallable urine/feces dripping down her legs for her entire life. Help The Fistula Foundation in any way that you can.
And so it goes…