Monday, March 18, 2013

Obstetric Fistula: What Can I Do?

A while ago, I wrote a post about obstetric fistula. For those who do not know already, obstetric fistula is a hole between the vagina and bladder or between the vagina and rectum, which can be one of the most tragic and humiliating effects of obstructed labor. (I highly recommend reading my older post that includes moving personal stories of fistula, if you have not already.) This is one of the most heart-wrenching issues I have ever encountered, and it has been on my mind throughout the last year. I have been looking for ways to get the word out about fistula to those who are not already aware.

Along those lines, I am very excited to report that last week, I helped to organize a "lunch and learn" presentation at my workplace. About a dozen people attended the event (out of ~70 employees in the office), received a free hot lunch (homemade by myself and other wonderful women of our office volunteer committee), and listened to a presentation about fistula. The attendees asked a lot of great questions, and many seemed interested in getting involved or spreading the word themselves. If nothing else, I am so excited to know that this important global health issue has gained even a fraction of greater visibility, with this handful of newly educated individuals.

This is the type of event that you can organize to touch your own places of influence, be that your office, church, friend group, family, professional organization, or another circle of people you know.

Other ideas to help women with fistula:

  • Purchase Mothers' Day gifts that support women with fistula.
  • Play this facebook game to earn points that Johnson & Johnson will convert into an actual cash donation.
  • Donate to an organization helping women with fistula, such as the Fistula Foundation.
  • Give the book "Half the Sky" to friends for special occasions.
  • Screen a fistula documentary for friends and family at your home, church, office, or other location.

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