I know most of us smile when we see small children. Their sweet smile, their cute faces, the funniest way of exploring things and the way they narrate their stories make everybody laugh.
In my birth place or in my country Ethiopia, everybody loves children. We give a child a kiss on the cheek, on the forehead or their little hands and give blessings everywhere we go. Some people even carry sweets when they go places to give a child and make them feel loved or special just in case they meet children where they are going.
When I lived 40 months in Nairobi, when people saw a group of people greeting children whom they don’t even know and give a kiss, the Kenyans were saying; “They must be Ethiopians.”
The love and the strong attachment with children in Ethiopia is very different. In a country where everybody adores a child, to get married and not to have a child would be kind of sad. We say, “The house without children is very cold.”
We lost many women struggling to give birth. This is very sad too.
I know, many of us are not even heard about fistula in our lives. It might be a forgotten agenda in the most part of our world. But in Africa and Asia there are women who are suffering from fistula.
Fistula is a hole in a woman’s body which happens through prolonged labor. Most of the women who married early before their body was not ready enough to conceive and give birth naturally in the remote villages are the victims. Because they don’t have hospital close to their huts, they lose their children. After they got fistula, they can’t control their urine and fesses. Their body smells. Husbands dumped them in their parents’ place. When parents got embarrassed with a smelling girl who is left by her husband, they put her in a shack. She will be given food there, because she is cursed or possessed by some spirit she has to stay alone. Some slept by one of their sides and became paralyzed. Some became lame and others are walking with support. Fistula stigmatizes a women than any other problem.
Last year I went to celebrate Christmas with them at Hamlin Fistula Hospital. Some of them were carrying the bags to contain urine. Others were running every now and then to pee by the gate. When I was walking in the room to take pictures, I stepped on urine.
Which woman can afford sitting in big ceremony passing urine? As a woman, we all need to dress up and carry ourselves and enjoy ourselves everywhere we go whether it is a party or to attend church services.
But, our sisters living with fistula are wearing pajamas, covered with blankets, put on head dress…etc. to celebrate Christmas. They don’t miss a child in their marriage only. The husband left them, they lost their children they bear for 9 months, their families throw them out and they are forgotten by the community.
WHAT A LOSS!!!
My heart cries out every time I went to visit their rehabilitation centre. Thanks to Dr. Hamlin for being there for them. I want to appreciate the most loving staff members of Hamlin Hospital and Yedesta Mender(Village of happiness/ Hamlin Rehab) for giving them love and cherish the patients. They really make them feel at home. I love both compounds. I wish I’m allowed to live there. It is a paradise.
On this day, I write this short article about them. I ask the whole world today, to pay attention to fistula patients and to support them in every way they need.
Brigender Gap Global is founded by Stella Mofor. This initiative is based in Cameroon and trying to help fistula patients In West and East African nations. Hopefully BGG will reach all African fistula victims.
Today is World Fistula Day. Let's do something to create awareness to stop child marriage, because it is one of the causes. let us work together to build more fistula centers in different countries and support women who suffer from fistula and it's stigma.