Was Admon’s Hope Story Coming to a Tragic End? December 1, 2017
A Tale of Two Surgeries August 29, 2015
Lourdes * (pictured below) is DRY! A wonderful outcome for this precious sister of ours. It brings me great joy to hear of the healing of these beautiful women and girls and to then share this amazing news with YOU.
After being in labor for three days and delivering a stillborn baby, Lourdes discovered that she had a double fistula with a fistula, or hole, in her bladder as well as her rectal wall. Now healed after fistula surgery at CEML, a partner hospital in Lubango, Angola, she is living once again!
Lourdes’ full story can be found on our website at: http://hopeforoursisters.org/lourdess-story/.
I wish all fistula outcomes were this straightforward. Paulina* (pictured below) underwent fistula surgery after suffering from fistula. She was initially DRY! How overjoyed she and the hospital staff were. Sadly, due to the extensive damage to her tissues and the stiff scar tissue that remained, Paulina is no longer dry during the night. She is deeply concerned things will only get worse and that she will one day no longer be dry during the day. The hope shown on her face below is fading with each passing day. Paulina now finds herself very discouraged even though the CEML staff encourages her daily.
This is the reality of fistula. I want every fistula surgery to be successful with every sister of ours freed to fully live. Sadly, as Paulina’s tale reminds us, this is not always the case.
However, we at Hope for Our Sisters do not throw up our hands and ask, “Why even try?” Rather, we ask, “How can we keep fistula from stealing the lives of our sisters? What role can we play in the battle against this preventable, hope-destroying condition?” The answer? PREVENTION.
Effective and lasting prevention takes time, care, and a spirit of partnership. Effective and lasting prevention is culture change carried out through empowerment, gentleness and sincere love of those in need. As we embark on our new prevention program in Angola, may we remember these two tales with very different outcomes. Let’s work towards one new single outcome…THE FULL AND COMPLETE ERADICATION OF FISTULA!
*Names have been changed to maintain their dignity.
© 2015 by Brooke F Sulahian
Healing in Nepal March 26, 2015
Hope for Our Sisters has the honor of partnering with Dr. Shirley Heywood in Surkhet, Nepal. Although we fund her fistula prevention education sessions, we always celebrate the stories of healing that come through successful fistula surgery. Please celebrate the new life for these three beautiful sisters with us! Below is the account written by Dr. Shirley Heywood:
“Three ladies from Kapilbastu, a poor district on the Indian border in Western Region, came for fistula surgery and all went home healed. All fistula sufferers have sad stories and these three had suffered isolation, shame, and fear since developing fistula through prolonged, difficult labours.
They were among the fortunate who have husbands who stand by them and though all had lost babies, they also had surviving healthy children.
When they arrived, Gita was very sad and withdrawn, usually sitting alone and not talking. She was the first to have her surgery. Through the days that followed, as she slept in a dry bed with her catheter, she slowly began to cheer up, even to laugh.
These ladies spoke Abadi, not Nepali, and a lot of communication was through sign language or through interpreters speaking Hindi, a language they could understand.
We remove catheters two weeks after surgery, first testing whether the bladder has healed. On the eve of her test, Gita poured out a stream of Abadi to me. Translated, this was, “If I am not well tomorrow please give me medicine so that I will die”. Happily the bladder was healed and Gita has gone home smiling. In the photo, Gita is the lady in the blue sari!”
All three of our sisters are free to be the wives and mothers they are called to be and to live their lives among their friends and family once again! Healed inside and out!
© 2015 by Brooke F Sulahian
Forgotten Deaths? May 24, 2013
Despair, isolation, shame…these are how we characterize the lives of those burdened by fistula. Can we even say they are living? More like existing without hope.
In my work with Hope for Our Sisters, I often think of and pray for the women and girls suffering from fistula or at risk of developing fistula. Married off too young, not given enough food, trying to give birth when they are too small…too young…undernourished.
But what about the babies? What about the fact that 90% of the time, the babies, trying to enter the world during the development of a fistula, will die either during birth or within the first week? We try to keep our mission clear and focus on fistula. We mention the babies but they are not the main topic.
However, I cannot…we cannot…we will not forget about these precious children. This is one reason Hope for Our Sisters is not only funding fistula surgery in Angola, but also efforts to prevent fistula in Nepal and, pending final agreement, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
You see…preventing fistula gives women and girls the chance to live out the lives God designed for each of them. However, it also saves the life of each baby…each child simply trying to be born…trying to enter the world…trying to play his or her part in God’s design.
May these babies never be forgotten in the effort to eradicate fistula. May they be seen as a blessing, a true gift as we help eradicate this hope-destroying condition.
Not forgotten…always cherished…hope found in each birth.
© 2013 by Brooke F Sulahian