** THANK YOU SO MUCH TO EVERYONE WHO HAS DONATED SO FAR **
I am heading to Kenya at the end of April to spend a month volunteering at a fistula clinic, and am hoping to raise some money to bring some much needed medical supplies with me.
All the women at the clinic have an obstetric fistula which has almost always occurred during an obstructed labour where emergency care is unavailable. The women will often struggle until the baby dies and during this agonising process, loss of circulation causes tissue to die and leaves large holes between the birth canal and the bladder or rectum, causing either urinary or faecal incontinence, and in many cases both. Most women suffering with obstetric fistulas are ostracised by their families and communities as they smell and are constantly wet, leaving them to live as outcasts. An estimated two million women in Africa are suffering with an obstetric fistula today.
I will be working at the Gynocare Centre in Eldoret, Kenya (http://www.gynocare.co.ke) which not only repairs fistulas, but also works very hard to ensure that the women are supported after surgery as they reenter society. The rejection and stigmatisation that they are usually subjected to is appalling and many struggle to cope psychologically even after the surgery. I will be working with the rehabilitation side of the clinic, providing vocational training and helping those women young enough to return to school to do so.
Please remember that these girls are often as young as 14 or 15, and factors such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and early forced marriage play a significant role.
One of the major hurdles of fistula programmes is the lack of awareness of the condition. If you do nothing else today, please talk to someone about what you have read here - these girls and women suffer in silence with a horrific injury that is both easily prevented and easily fixed. If you can, please consider supporting my trip out to Kenya - all the money that I raise will go towards buying medical supplies for the clinic and materials for the rehabilitation centre. I have paid for my flights and accommodation out of my own pocket so anything that I can't use will go directly to the charity that supports the clinic.
Thank you all so much!