finding hope and sharing it

FUELED BY HOPE December 29, 2018

Filed under: Hope — Brooke F. Sulahian @ 1:34 pm
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At Hope for Our Sisters

Hope is what we are all about

What is hope?

Hope is

To expect with confidence

Hope is

A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen

Hope is

A powerful force created by God


Ignites ideas and enables perseverance


Gives people a reason to get up each day


Gives us the energy to do our work


Enables us to imagine a world without fistula


Is something everyone can generate


Can change the world


Has not yet reached every inch of our world

Will you generate hope with our precious sisters today?


Let’s generate it and share it today!


To find out more, go to hopeforoursisters.org

© 2018 by Brooke F Sulahian


Building Bridges December 27, 2018

There is a common adage shared with incoming public health students and with those listening in on important conversations being had in the arena:

One day, a group of fishermen were at their work midway down a river in a small village. A man suddenly drifted past them on the current, in clear distress and near to drowning. The fishermen were able to rescue him, and as their day settled and they prepared to cast their lines again, they were stunned to find another drowning victim passing them by. This went on for hours and hours, into the night, with more and more people washing past them, each in grave danger. Eventually, the fishermen sent someone upstream to see if they could discover where all of the drowning victims were coming from. A bridge was found to have been damaged, with people unaware and falling through. The bridge was repaired in short order, the falls into the river stopped, and the exhausted fishermen were thankful for less eventful working days to come.

This story focuses on “going upstream” to find the source of problems, and its lesson is crucial to practitioners and advocates for women’s health. There are 2-3 million women estimated to be living with fistula across the globe, with 50,000 -130,000 new cases occurring annually. The surgical capacity to repair all of these fistulas doesn’t currently exist. Organizations like Hope for Our Sisters can’t ignore the women currently living with fistula – our hearts ache for these precious sisters and we will always seek to help them by funding fistula surgeries.

But we are an organization uniquely sent to find the problems upstream and start repairing the fragile bridges, the weak infrastructure, that is causing fistula in the first place.

The risks for fistula begin when any female is a small girl: if she is undernourished or if she cannot attend school, she is at risk. If, as a teenager, she is married and becomes pregnant too young, she is at risk. If, as a grown woman, she lives too far from safe delivery options and has minimal prenatal care, she is at risk — with every pregnancy that she undertakes.

We can consider this continuum of a woman’s life, from girlhood to motherhood, to flow like the river in the story. There are many, many points along the river where we can intervene. Someday, we hope to dip our hands into new pools and be shown by our partners how to help in new ways. But at this time, for the women with whom we currently partner, the needs we are best equipped to address are education about safe delivery and fistula prevention, and ensuring that finances and providers are available for safe vaginal or surgical (cesarean) deliveries.

Fifty percent of our funding in 2018 went to preventative care. In 2019, we plan to provide at least 50% towards prevention. We are committed to bringing fistula to an end. We continue to fund the education of surgeons through the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons (PAACS), who can provide maternal care in our partner countries of Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We provide maternal health funds in Angola and DRC so that cost is not a barrier to care for any woman coming to our partner clinics for help (the poorest women are often the most at risk for fistula). We will continue to support the Ultrasound Empowerment Program in Angola, Fistula Education and Awareness sessions in Angola and Nepal, and Sexual Gender-Based Violence groups in DRC. Our ears will always be open to new ways to stem the tide of women suffering from fistula – we envision a world in which fistula is eradicated because maternal health care, globally, is so sound that no woman would ever be put at such at risk.

There is so much work to be done in 2019 and beyond. There are so many who still need to be reached, so many who are risk of falling from the bridge, into the river below, and drowning. Where we build bridges, women thrive.

Thank you for building with us by investing in preventative care for women.


Guest blog written by Cara Brooks, Hope for Our Sisters Board Member and Partner in Hope

Find out more about our prevention efforts at hopeforoursisters.org

Why Prevention? December 26, 2018

Filed under: Hope — Brooke F. Sulahian @ 10:50 pm
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Surgery alone is not enough.

In addition to providing treatment through surgery,

We choose to partner with our sisters before they get injured.

Our sisters deserve a life path without fistula looming in the horizon.

Let’s work together to kick fistula out of Angola, DR Congo and Nepal.

We can do this!

One woman at a time

One girl at a time

One husband at a time

One family at a time

One community at a time

Lasting prevention takes:







We at Hope for Our Sisters are championing a groundswell movement where each woman

and girl in our partner countries is emboldened to choose her future.


To find out more, go to hopeforoursisters.org

© 2018 by Brooke F Sulahian


Imagine December 8, 2018

Imagine a beautiful world where Hope for Our Sisters doesn’t exist.
Not because it ran out of money.
Not because people stopped wanting to help.
Imagine that Hope for Our Sisters doesn’t exist because it doesn’t need to anymore…because of prevention.
When my daughter gets hurt and I get to rescue her with a big hug and an ice pack, I feel like a hero.
It’s a great feeling.
But then my next thought is, “How can I stop her from getting hurt the next time?”
I might find out more about how she got hurt, and scan the area for what made it dangerous.
Because even though I like being a hero, I’d rather feel confident that my daughter is safe.
When it comes to helping our sisters, there’s something instantly rewarding about funding a fistula surgery or providing a new dress–we can see the problem, and provide a solution.
We see a woman’s face and think, “I helped pay for her surgery!”
But what if instead of a fistula, she had a life-saving c-section instead?
Immediate aid is critical.
Not only because it saves lives, but because it helps doctors and nurses understand the problem better.
With each sister arriving for a fistula repair surgery, we have the chance to learn more about their bodies, backgrounds, cultures, and beliefs.
But prevention is the next step.
We take what we know about human anatomy and pregnancy, and pair it with what we know about many women’s journey to motherhood.
We can take all of that and use it to ask, “How can I stop her from getting hurt the next time?”
Through the Ultrasound Empowerment Program, doctors can help women make healthy, educated choices by determining if a c-section is necessary.
Knowledge empowers women.
Choice empowers women.
Prevention empowers women.
Imagine again that beautiful world, one where women have increased access to prenatal care and know exactly what’s happening in their bodies.
Imagine they are empowered to choose to have a c-section.
Imagine they go home with their babies, fistula-free.
By continuing to fund not only aid but prevention, we give our sisters true hope–hope for their safety, hope for their babies, hope for the future.
Guest blog written by Dianna Sawyer, Hope for Our Sisters Partner in Hope
Find out more about our prevention efforts at hopeforoursisters.org


Filed under: Hope — Brooke F. Sulahian @ 3:26 pm
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It call came to a head at a silent retreat

Located at a beautiful monastery

With inviting paths and stunning stained glass windows


Although a silent retreat, group sessions allowed for talking

Each session began with a song or poem

Friday night’s poem was about living in the gray versus living in full color

I immediately thought, “I want to live in full color for God, living to the full…”


However, I suddenly realized in order to do that

God needed to work on my heart first, during this gray period,

As I climbed out of my valley

I needed to believe with my heart, soul and mind that

He loves me for WHO I AM, NOT WHAT I DO

I prayed that night that this truth would move into my heart during the retreat

And stay there forever


The next morning, I was doing my Bible study at a small table with soft, comfy chairs

The sunrise through the wall of windows was breathtaking

I felt God ask me to sit with Him for a bit

He then opened His hand and showed me my dark, disbelieving heart

I did not lack faith in God

I lacked the belief in His love for me…just because I am…well…me


God then showed me a new heart in His other hand

A new heart that believed this critical truth

God held out both hearts to me so I could choose

I could choose my old, disbelieving heart or this new one, full of this truth

God asked if I believed that He loved me for who I am,

Not how I perform or what I do

I hesitated, I pondered

I had prayed for this very thing, this very offer to occur

But thought it would take much more work on my part

I’ve been a striver my entire life

Trying to earn what I could only receive

However, I wanted this and wanted it badly

But I knew this was a big step, a door through which I could not go back again

After what seemed like many minutes

I eventually replied, “Yes, today, this day, I believe You love me

With Your complete, unique, tailored, all-encompassing Love”


I felt God place my new heart inside my chest

It felt lighter…still does

It beat differently…still does

After my actual birthday and the day of my healing from depression

This day, 9/22/18, feels like my third birthday

I feel reborn with this new truth residing in my heart

I am overjoyed at His gift, His investment in me


I then asked God to remind me of this new truth every day

So I would never forget His gift or His truth…so I could make it my own

He has reminded me each day since and I know He always will


As I arrived home that following day

A dear friend gave me a birthday gift for my actual birthday

A bit delayed if you looked at the calendar

But from my view, it was perfectly timed

The motto at the monastery is

“How good is our good God?”

He is very good, y’all


© 2018 by Brooke F Sulahian


MY UNEXPECTED RETURN TO JOY (Part 3) October 24, 2018

Filed under: Hope — Brooke F. Sulahian @ 1:35 pm
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Soooo…what did I do?

I went for it!

I jumped in with both feet

I chose God rather than comfort, fear or routine

I started my day with Him, not His verses

I am so thankful He gave me the courage to choose His way

A way that seemed so foreign and strange

What happened?

God met me throughout the day

Popping into my head

Dropping prayers into my heart

Prompting me to stop and sit with Him

Just to be WITH Him

This is NEW

Not striving FOR Him

But being WITH Him

It’s as if God cleared away a barrier

I was seeing and hearing Him more

But I was not just seeing and hearing Him more

I was seeing and hearing Him in a NEW way

He was reaching out to me in a very tailored way

A way to best reach me

As if I am the only one who mattered

I had prayed to be more awake to Him

He was answering my prayer

This was His gift

I was climbing out of my valley with

God by my side

Little did I know He had a great surprise awaiting me

What was it?

(More of my journey soon…)

© 2018 by Brooke F Sulahian


MY UNEXPECTED RETURN TO JOY (Part 2) October 10, 2018

Filed under: Hope — Brooke F. Sulahian @ 1:08 pm
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I went for a run

(I enjoy such sweet God time when I run)

At the beginning of my five-mile journey

God invited me to take a new path out of the valley

It felt very unconventional

It almost felt sacrilegious

What was it?

It was a request to STOP


He asked me NOT to recite my daily memory scripture verses

What? Was this really God asking me to do this?

It felt so strange to even consider this

But it WAS God, so I needed to think about it


Let me stop here and say that memorizing scripture from the Bible

Is a great gift for many others and myself

Having His Word in our head and hearts

Can nourish us when we most need it


However, for me

My routine of memory verses was blocking my awareness of God

I realized I was reciting my verses in the morning

Placing a big check by “Time with God”

And not checking in with Him again


I had been praying that I would be awake to Him

Was this God’s way of helping me be awake?

Not just in the morning

But throughout the day?

Could I do this?

Fear crept in…what if I forget these treasured verses?

Would I choose God or fear or the comfort of routine?

(More of my journey soon…)

© 2018 by Brooke F Sulahian