President’s Appeal

Soroptimist Appeal Restores Dignity to Women with Obstetric Fistula

Each year on December 10th (United Nations’ Human Rights Day), the Soroptimist International president asks all Soroptimists worldwide to contribute to a project that helps women living in extreme poverty. In 2007 almost £135,000 was raised to help fund the Desta Mender village in partnership with Hamlin Fistula Relief and Aid Fund for women with obstetric fistula.

This year’s appeal by Margaret Lobo, Restoring Dignity – Securing a Future, will extend the support provided last year to Ethiopian women suffering from this debilitating condition.

Obstetric fistula occurs as a result of several days of obstructed labor without timely medical intervention, a Caesarean section. The constant pressure of the baby’s head in the birth canal causes a fistula (hole) to form between the bladder and the vagina, and/or between the rectum and the vagina. The baby usually dies and the mother is left with urine and waste leaking from her body.

“Sadly, in Ethiopia, an obstetric fistula can be worse than death,” said Leigh Wintz, executive director of Soroptimist International of the Americas in Philadelphia. “The smell of constantly leaking body fluids results in young women, many of them girls, being rejected and outcast by their community. They are doomed to a life of shame and isolation. This is why our December 10th Appeal is so critical in helping women with this condition.”

An estimated 8,000 to 9,000 women in Ethiopia suffer with obstetric fistula each year and don’t have the money for fistula repair via surgery or the access to medical care that most women in developed nations have. At least 93 percent of fistulas can be repaired, but three percent are so badly damaged in childbirth, they cannot be healed.

Funds from the December 10th Appeal will help women who cannot be fully cured by providing ongoing medical care at the Desta Mender Village of the Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In addition, the self-help rural village provides skills and vocational training to the women, encourages their independence and helps improve their morale and self-esteem. Find out more about the hospital and the positive outcomes these women are experiencing »

Posted in Programs of Service.