I’m sitting here fretting over a knot in my back. I’m putting ice on it, and I can take a pill if I need to. If it gets really unbearable, I can go to the doctor. There are so many women in the world who don’t have such a choice, women who suffer a lot worse than a little knot in the back, but have no access to medical care. Obstetric fistula is a condition that thousands of women around the world suffer from, a condition that was basically eliminated in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century.
Obstetric fistula is an injury caused by prolonged labor and obstructed childbirth with no medical care. Hours of contractions, with the baby’s head constantly pushing against the pelvic bone, can create a hole, or a fistula, between the birth canal and the bladder or rectum, and the woman becomes incontinent. Often, the baby does not survive. In addition to suffering from the loss of her baby and the damage to her body, because of the smell and mess from the incontinence, these young women are typically rejected by their husbands and ostracized from the community. They are forced to live isolated from their families, traumatized, and suffering.
The Fistula Foundation is a non-profit program that educates about fistula and raises money to fund worldwide programs who offer fistula repair, prevention and education. Medical Missionaries of Mary offer health care services in areas of need around the world. The Fistula Project at Kitovu Hospital is a Salt Lake City based community group that has teamed with The Fistula Foundation and the Medical Missionaries of Mary to help provide fistula repair surgeries to women in Uganda. The Fistula Project works to raise awareness and educate the community about fistula and to raise money for the much needed surgeries. In addition, volunteers with The Fistula Project travel to Uganda to distribute handmade blankets, hygiene kits, and to teach the fistula patients how to knit and crochet, in a caring, supportive environment.
The knitting and crocheting are activities that help to distract the women while they await their surgeries. It offers an opportunity for the women who have been living alone to start to experience community again. These are also skills the women can use to make clothing and household goods for themselves and their families, and can be a means of generating income.
My husband, Craig, and I strive to make a difference in the world through our actions. We believe that every human matters, and we want to do what we can to create peace and help to ease suffering in the world. Sometimes these are very small actions, such as posting about something we believe in on Facebook, and sometimes we are driven to do something bigger. We have decided that making the trip to Uganda this October as volunteers with The Fistula Project is a way for us to give of ourselves, and live our values.
This is kind of a huge step for us. Traveling and learning about the world is a dream and a top priority for both of us. We could go visit a typical tourist destination, but that isn’t what interests us. We want to know the real world, and the real people in it; we want to make a difference in the world. That’s why we are choosing to spend our “vacation” offering service.
This is where you come in. Financially, we can’t do this by ourselves. Let’s face it; I’m a stay-at-home artist. Truthfully, I feel a little squeamish asking for help. I don’t ask for help, of any kind, easily. I worry about how this looks to ask for money, but then I remember that I hit the donate button and don’t find it weird. I have donated to a variety of adventures that I’ve come across on blogs, not a lot, but a few dollars here and there. So I’m sucking it up and I’m asking for your help. Your few dollars can help us to help people in need. If you would like to send us off to a place where it’s really hot and there might be big scary bugs, please click the donate button. If you would prefer to make a purchase that supports the project, the proceeds from sales in both of my Etsy shops, between now and October, will be used to pay for this journey.
To fund this volunteer service, we will need a total of $7,000. We hope to raise $5,000 through sales from my Etsy shops and donations on this site. If you can help with either a donation or by making a purchase from one of my shops it will be greatly appreciated. You can find the donation button over on the right sidebar. Payment is safe and secure. You can find my Fiber Art shop here and my Mixed-Media shop here
Throughout the upcoming months, we will keep you updated on our progress here on the blog. When we get to Uganda, I will take many many photos, and will be so thrilled to share our stories with you when we return.
If you would like to learn more, visit these sites: