hopesightings

finding hope and sharing it

Jesus, My Mama May 7, 2018

I have a sound clip I like to listen to from my most recent trip aboard the Africa Mercy. I recorded it from within my pocket, as we refrain from capturing personal images of our patients for the sake of their privacy. I wanted to savor the sounds of joy from one of our dress ceremonies – special celebrations we have every few weeks for the women with fistula who have been healed. These special women are gifted a bright new dress with a headwrap to symbolize going forth in new life, dry and whole. There is about twenty minutes of singing and dancing prior to the start of prayer and testimony-sharing. Following the ceremony, the joyful music goes on until the chaplains and musicians have to head home.

One of the songs has a chant that’s in English:

“Jesus my Papa, Papa — Jesus my Papa, Papa

Jesus my Mama, Mama — Jesus my Mama, Mama ….”

Other words are used to describe the deeply personal relationship Christ has with all of His followers, in its many facets and forms, and then there is a long, rapid cry:

“Jesus is mine mine mine mine mine mine mine mine mine mine mine mine mine!”

There are whoops and yells, exclamations and shouts of gratitude and victory. I can’t get enough of this sound clip. Thinking that someone wrote lyrics like that, that someone’s relationship with Jesus is so multi-colored and variably shaped, is inspiring. I tend to think about the trinity in neat little boxes. Jesus feels like my dearest, deepest friend. God feels like a Father. The spirit is …. Well, I don’t know if I even have the right word for that. The spirit is a guide? (But so much more.)

Rarely do I think of any of these entities as being like my mother.

And yet, aren’t they all? Jesus the friend is a comforter, a nurturer, someone to celebrate with, someone to lean upon and cry with. God is who I turn to for protection when I am afraid, or when I need to ask for something – for courage, for power to do what is right and just. The spirit is what I turn to when I’m trying to discern the way. Aren’t ALL of these things the exact ways I respond to and interact with my own biological mother, and grandmothers? And with the other women in my life who are generations older and have gone before me? I don’t separate them into functions or roles. I expect (maybe unfairly) for my own Mother to be all of that for me – a nurturer, comforter, advice-giver, encouragement-provider, safe haven.

Somehow it is natural for us to think of women in our lives as capable of carrying all of that load, of being earthly examples of all of the best parts of the trinity mashed into one. The Proverbs 31 wife, for example, has got to be the most exhausted woman in history, but we look to her as a model of what a woman can and should be if she is living her life for God. To be so much, to take on so much, feels like it is part of the very essence of being “woman”, and especially of being “mother”. To be “mother” is, in many ways, to be an unstoppable force of positivity and light in this sometimes dark world.

So what happens when women lose some of that identity – like our sisters suffering from fistula? When slowly, as they “fail” to complete a long labor, as their babies die, as their husbands leave them, as they are cast out of their communities, they come to find themselves isolated and without direction or purpose? What happens to a woman when everyone stops wanting to connect with her in those ways that allow her to feel like a haven, a helper, a confidante?

These women feel like less of a woman, that’s what happens. And when they feel like less of a woman, they suddenly feel less “capable”. They feel ruined, bruised, worthless. Motherhood and womanhood are so deeply and intricately tied together in African culture – often, I feel you could almost use the words interchangeable. When our sisters are robbed of the opportunity to be “whole” mothers and wives, they feel robbed of their very identity.

I am so thankful for a Lord who sees any woman as less than whole. Jesus IS like a good mother, seeing the best and most beautiful parts of us at all times — like a good mother who wants to pull us into her arms, rub our back and dry our tears. Jesus is like the good mother who wants to kiss us, bandage us and make it all better – heal our wounds, from inside to out. However you best relate to Him, one thing I know that we all agree on is that He calls us to serve Him by serving others.

So we are called to be like good Mothers to our sisters. We are called to love and cherish them, to celebrate them, to work for them and do what we can to ensure they are living their lives to their fullest potential and with the highest quality. Whether you’re a mother or not, every woman can imagine what it would take to empower and encourage you if you were at your very lowest, full of shame and sadness. You would want someone to invest in your healing. You would want someone to tell you were capable of learning a new skill, or a trade. You would want someone to see you – to look past the condition you have and to instead look into the heart in you that hasn’t changed despite the way the rest of your body maybe has.

You would want someone to mother you. Those of us who are “whole” are called to be the hands and the feet of Jesus — and I think that often means being everything a mother would be, until these women are strong and confident enough to return to that role on their own.

We want to make sure that these precious women know that they are loved this Mother’s Day, that they are cherished by other women and mothers the world over.

Partner with us.

We want them to be strengthened by an outpouring of love and support so that they can continue to be restored, both physically and spiritually. We hope that in turn, they can return to their communities as positive change agents, advocating against conditions and practices that lend themselves to the injustice of fistula. They can become stronger women and better mothers because of the love they received from US.

 

Guest blog for Hope for Our Sisters Mother’s Day Gift of Life Campaign by Cara Brooks

© 2018 by Brooke F Sulahian

Hope for Our Sisters is currently generating hope and raising funds through our Mother’s Day Gift of Life Campaign to support our work with our precious sisters in Angola, the DR Congo and Nepal. If you want to help us generate more hope that ever, go to http://hopeforoursisters.org/donate-online/ to make a donation. For a minimum $25 donation, we will send a beautiful Mother’s Day card to a mom in your life if you provide the needed information in the text boxes on the online donation form. Thank you!

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One Woman April 24, 2018

Filed under: Hope — Brooke F. Sulahian @ 6:23 pm
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One Woman

What a year to be a woman. One by one, women who had been hiding in shame stepped forward, illuminating their stories and inspiring others. They became more fully themselves as they told their stories of sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination. Their courage made a bold statement: “This will not define me. I am more than this.” And now, a culture that for so long accepted what was happening in secret has begun to change. It started with one woman.

When a woman is suffering with fistula, she does not need to hide in shame—she is publicly shamed. She is outcast, she is forgotten, she is told, “This is who you are.” For so many women, this lie is simply accepted. Nobody asks about the woman’s skills, her intellect, her passions, her personality—she is simply a woman who is broken, who cannot work, who cannot bear children, who can contribute nothing. Often, she is abandoned. This is the culture she has been made to accept.

But what happens when this woman, through the generous gifts of strangers and the tireless efforts of nurses and doctors, is healed of fistula? Who is she now? What can she do?

To empower is “to promote the self-actualization or influence of.” To empower someone is encouraging them to discover, “This is who I am. And this is what I can do.” For women healed of fistula, empowerment is the next step.

When she asks, “Who am I?” the empowerment program encourages her to discover, I am more than a woman who lost a child. I am more than a woman who was left. I am more than a woman who was broken. I am strong. I am brave. I am smart. I am capable.

When she asks, “What can I do?” the empowerment program helps her discover, I can sew. I can build. I can create. I can imagine. I can earn income. I can provide. I can learn. I can inspire others. I can change my life. I can change my culture.

If one woman learns to weave a basket, learns how and where to sell it, and earns her own money, she may feel good about herself and what she has accomplished. But if another woman is watching and thinks, “I could do that, too,” then she has made an impact. She has had influence. She has truly been empowered.

The work of Hope for Our Sisters has found that it is not enough to simply heal a fistula. Often, what a woman has endured is not only medical in nature, but emotional, spiritual, psychological, and cultural. When she gets out of the hospital bed recovered, she is a new woman. She has new hope. She has new opportunity. She has the chance to discover who she really is, and what she can do.

The cultural norms for many women with fistula are hard to overcome. But it starts with one woman willing to seek treatment, open to learning new skills, eager to share her story. It starts with a woman empowered. With the opportunities through the Hope for Our Sisters empowerment program, one woman at a time can look back at her past with fistula and boldly declare: “This will not define me. I am more than this.”

And as one woman empowers another, and then another, and then another, anything is possible.

Guest blog for Hope for Our Sisters Mother’s Day Gift of Life Campaign by Dianna Sawyer

© 2018 by Brooke F Sulahian

Hope for Our Sisters is currently generating hope and raising funds through our Mother’s Day Gift of Life Campaign to support our work with our precious sisters in Angola, the DR Congo and Nepal. If you want to help us generate more hope that ever, go to http://hopeforoursisters.org/donate-online/ to make a donation. For a minimum $25 donation, we will send a beautiful Mother’s Day card to a mom in your life if you provide the needed information in the text boxes on the online donation form. Thank you!

 

A Burden and A Joy – Guest Blog by Cara Brooks March 13, 2018

Filed under: Hope — Brooke F. Sulahian @ 6:48 pm
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One of our Hope for Our Sisters board members is currently serving overseas with another non-profit, Mercy Ships, and one of the areas of focus for this group is treating women with fistula. Here is a blog post she authored, interviewing a friend about the great victories and joys, but also the emotional burdens, of working with our beautiful sisters. “Photo credit to the Mercy Ships Communications Department”.

I wasn’t terribly familiar with fistulas prior to working with Mercy Ships. I had heard of conditions that caused women to leak urine and feces, but knew very little of the reasons for the problem, or the enormous magnitude. The World Health Organization estimates that over 2 million women are living with untreated fistulas between Asia and sub-Saharan Africa; this statistic doesn’t include poor places in northern Africa, or South and Central America. In the interview that follows with a friend, she told me that a gynecological surgeon from the US told her that in his 40 years of practice, he had only ever seen one case of fistula, and it was caused by a medical error. Fistulas are entirely a problem of poverty.

Meeting these women, even just as a nurse encountering them outside of the ward, changed me. In February 2017, I joined the Boston-based organization Hope For Our Sisters, Inc.  as a general team member, helping with mail-outs and prayer chains, assisting with the website revision and attending events. Later that year, I was asked to join the Board of Directors. It has been an incredible gift, and provides an outlet for my heart to serve these women from afar. (If this sounds familiar, it’s because I blogged about it not too long ago.)

Many times in women’s health, we share the stories of our most down-trodden, disadvantaged sisters and their victories through surgery to become dry. But women’s health, unlike many other specialties, doesn’t always have a happy ending. It’s black and white – women walk away dry, or wet. They are healed, or they are resigned to a life of rejection, shame and isolation. While we are better when we dwell in joy and hope, there is a real and serious emotional toll for the providers who work in women’s health. These nurses, doctors and surgeons see miracles, surely, but they also are called to the terrible task of telling women there is nothing more we can do for them – their defect is too big, or their scar tissue is too tough. We offer them prayers and support, we hope that even in their trials they have encountered the love of Christ and know, in their hearts, that they are cherished beyond measure, even when their villages drive them out, their husbands leave them, their families abandon them.

My dear friend, Mary G., has worked in women’s health for the last three years with the organization we both serve with abroad: Mercy Ships. Mary loves Marvel Comic Movies, her coffee, sleeping in and FaceTiming with her family. She is faithful and committed – she traveled to Utah and Maine in the span of one month to attend both my wedding and our friend Jarah’s. She has been a shoulder to me in some of the hardest hours of my adult life. And, above all, her heart for these women is beautiful to behold. I have had many conversations over the years with Mary about “the ladies”, as we call them, and the highs and lows of caring for this special population.

I would challenge you, as you read this, to pray in a special way for the people caring for our sisters. Their job is so hard, and they do it with so much love and grace. This season in Cameroon has been particularly difficult for the women’s health providers. There have been many women who have had multiple repair attempts already, with a subsequent build-up of scar tissue, forcing surgeons to try “last-ditch” methods with success rates as low as 20%. Women who cannot have their fistula entirely corrected surgically have even less options now than before. Manufacturers used to create “urethral plugs”, which didn’t heal fistula, but did allow women with continued incontinence to release their urine in more timely and appropriate settings, versus leaking constantly. Production of urethral plugs has stopped, because “no one needs them”… meaning, no one who can afford to buy them would need one, because it’s only poor women in Africa who need them. One of our annual fistula surgeons, Dr. Norman, has just a handful left to provide to women who cannot be helped surgically. Imagine how he, and nurses like Mary, and our team leader, Tam, will feel when the last of those are gone. What do we offer women then? What sustainable option, beyond diapering if a woman can afford it, is left?


Cara: Mare [as I call her], tell me a little bit about your nursing background and your initial impressions in being assigned to women’s health back in Madagascar.

Mary: Ha! My background was in medical/surgical nursing, specifically in orthopedics and trauma. I saw a lot of geriatric hip fractures. So when I was assigned to women’s health, I was excited, but nervous because of the different population. I just didn’t know what to expect. In general, the nursing care was very familiar – catheters, IV, pain medications – all of that was the same. Yet it was harder because fistulas are something you don’t see at home, ever. You don’t know anything about it, so you don’t even know what questions to ask the patient or what to focus on at the beginning.

Cara: It’s been 3 years since you started. Now, when you encounter these women for the first time, what are some of the things you’ve learned to do, or to take in?

Mary: I always try to GREET them specifically as a person. The relational aspect has become so much more important to me and I try to really talk directly to her and just be friendly. In so many of their situations, these women are not treated with kindness. There is just a sense of unfairness to this all. It’s not fair that they suffer with these problems that don’t exist in my country. It’s hard dealing with the injustice of it.

Cara: Do you feel like certain women over the last 3 years have changed you?

Here, Mary paused. We were sitting in the cafe on Deck 5, where there is a wall plastered with images of the women’s faces. Next to each smiling woman is a single word she gave us to describe herself both before, and then after, surgery. 

Mary: [looking at the wall]  I love all of their faces. There are so many stories and so many different things they deal with. There are just so many of them, and so many different lessons I’ve learned. Sometimes its the more middle-aged ones that surprise me, the ones in their 40s who developed fistulas around 30 years ago, who have been wet longer than they were ever dry – their perseverance and their ability to love other patients around them, it’s inspiring. They reach out to each other, even when they’re suffering, too. It’s hard to describe. There was a middle-aged woman in Madagascar with a fistula who met one of our teenage fistula patients at a screening site. The teenager had no family or guardian to come with her to the ship (a requirement for Mercy Ships for patients under the age of 18). The older woman took this girl under her wing and came with her to the ship as her caregiver even though they had just met hours before and she was going to have surgery herself. That action of love and service in the midst of her own suffering was a great example to me.

Cara: Do you feel like there are certain attributes you would ascribe to them at certain phases (pre-op, waiting for the catheters to come out, post-op)?

Mary: It sounds weird to say, but that they’re strong. It doesn’t sound like enough, but they’re resilient and strong, in the good news and the bad. These ladies are so tough. We had one lady here in Cameroon who had an abdominal approach, and so that’s a big incision, so much pain, and she was up 3 days post-op trying to dance in the hall with the other ladies. We tried to get her to stay in bed but she just wanted to be up and dancing.

Cara: Are there specific prayers you find yourself praying for these women?

Mary: There are always prayers in my heart for what will what happen when they go home. Many of them are vulnerable to having a fistula happen again, like by getting pregnant. They’re going back to the same situation where the fistula started so the likelihood of recurrence is high. Especially the young ones who came form abuse, and who are going back to abuse; I pray for safety and change.

Cara: What do you feel like have been some “themes” of women’s health for you?

Mary:  I feel like I think often of how overwhelming, just how HUGE, the problem is. It’s not just women having fistulas – it’s people as a whole not having access to health care and care throughout pregnancy. It’s a problem of poverty. How do you even approach it? We can fix the hole, but not the problem that causes the hole. Yeah, a lot of them have a potential of it happening again, or it happening to someone else they know. Other nurses that I’ve done exit interviews with have talked about needing a more specific debriefing process for women’s health, because it can be so difficult to cope with the things we see. Some days, though, are more hopeful because some leave dry and are so empowered and will teach others how to prevent it. It all depends on the day.

Here, I steal one of my favorite interview questions from Jen Hatmaker, whose podcast “For the Love” is funny, poignant and relevant. Every week, she asks this of her interviewees and gets a variety of answers, from silly to serious. 

Cara: When it’s 1:30pm and you’re preparing for a 2:00pm evening shift, and you’re tired and heartsick and broken and burned out, what is saving you right now?

[Our ladies aren’t allowed to climb stairs for about two weeks post-op, so they shuffle up and down the hospital hallway for hours each day, carrying their urinary catheter bags and singing songs of praise and joy.]

Mary: The singing. It’s something so special to them. Even when I’m laying in my bed, I hear them singing in the wards, and it’s so helpful and it’s so sweet. It’s so unique to women’s health. The women in Beds 1-4 the other day were still on bed rest, and Bed 2 started humming, so then Bed 1 joined and then all 4 were singing together. It’s all so sweet. Moments like that make me keep on trucking.

 

For more information about Hope for Our Sisters, please visit http://hopeforoursisters.org/.

 

Unfinished Stories December 8, 2017

Filed under: Hope — Brooke F. Sulahian @ 4:18 pm
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One of my favorite books is Pillars of the Earth. It’s a 1,000+ page novel that tells a sweeping narrative of the building of a cathedral in twelfth-century England. I’ve read this book at least three times from cover to cover.  I know the plot. I know each scene by memory. And yet, each time a character enters a dangerous situation, I try to think of a new way out. I hope and believe with all my heart that maybe this time it will be different.
            But this novel is complete. It was written a long time ago, and there can be no different ending to any of the scenes within it. Nothing I hope for or imagine for my beloved characters will happen. The story has already been written, and it’s finished.
            However, our stories are not. Our stories, along with our sisters’, are still being written. So even as we experience or witness danger, violence, poverty, and pain, we know the story does not have to end there. We can help each other write new endings. We can imagine new beginnings. We can do this because we have hope.
             This hope is what motivates us to stick with a painful, uncomfortable, or challenging story. It’s what drives us to give generously of our time and resources. It’s what binds us together as sisters.
            And hope is what interrupts painful, merciless stories and redeems them into something beautiful. This year, we’ve heard shocking stories of abuse and rape. Unthinkable stories of neglect and gender-based violence. Uncomfortable stories that seem to have no light.
            But thanks to your generosity, prayer, and hope, these stories have not ended at the darkest moments. Our sisters-fueled by hope for a different, better, brighter story-stood strong. They fought for their futures, for their healing, for their babies. They lived, they thrived, and now they tell their new stories – hope stories.
            For Deborah, Solange, Esinam, and Elsabe, a painful story became one of redemption. But it doesn’t end with these four. Because women around them everywhere are watching. Women terrorized by gender-based violence, women living with fistula, women abandoned by their families and spouses, women recovering from painful deliveries and stillborn babies. These women continue to hope, because they see that good can prevail. They believe that a dark and painful story can become a hope story. And thanks to the help of sisters around the world, their stories are just beginning.
Written by Dianna Sawyer, Hope for Our Sisters Partner in Hope.
You can learn more about our precious sisters and help them write more hope stories at hopeforoursisters.org.
 

On The Outside Looking In May 28, 2017

When I turned 11 I found myself on the outside looking in.

I grew up in warm Southern California as the youngest of three.

I would describe it as an idyllic childhood…

Riding bikes with my brothers, lots of friends on our street and at school,

good grades, fun times of soccer and softball, and a loving family.

I also had a strong sense of who I was.

I felt anything was possible.

I felt I could conquer the world.

Then we moved…

My life was rocked to my core.

I no longer belonged.

I forgot who I was.

Moving to Texas at 11 is still one of the most impactful and difficult experiences in my life.

Not only did I move to a new town in a new state, but

I moved into a new and totally different culture.

I felt as if I had moved to a new country.

I did not have the right clothes.

My accent (or lack thereof) was wrong.

I even had different slang.

No matter what I did or how I tried to connect, I was constantly reminded that I was

An outsider looking in.

Once we entered Texas, I had lost my sense of who I was.

I did not feel valued but lost.

I felt as if I was stranded on an island, in the middle of an ocean.

Over time I found my way “in” through new friends

Who accepted me for who I was.

I made friends just being “me”.

I learned that I could overcome and rise above obstacles by being myself…

The one God created me to be.

As a child, I always cheered and spoke out for the underdog.

Now, I had become the underdog.

I had a new appreciation of the value of community and

This increased my life-long compassion for

Those on the outside,

Those considered less than,

Those considered not important or of value.

I should not have been surprised that the issue of fistula would resonate with me,

Even though at the time I felt it hit me out of the blue.

As I first read about fistula, the focus of Hope for Our Sisters,

I was not only struck by the injustice of the situation but

The aloneness,

Isolation,

And lack of community

Suffered by these sisters of ours.

At Hope for Our Sisters we extend our reach beyond fistula surgery and prevention

By directly investing in each woman.

Just like you and me, each one of our sisters has value.

Each one of our sisters has a story to tell.

Each one of our sisters has a contribution to make.

Each one of our sisters has the right to rejoin their communities.

Each one of our sisters has the potential to change the world.

(NOTE: A session with the organization Resonate helped me tap into this story behind my passion for HFOS. I fully believe God broke my heart for this issue but I also believe He used this very difficult experience of mine to help fistula resonate with my heart.)

 

© 2017 by Brooke F Sulahian

 

 

 

Motherhood is Eternal, as is Hope May 10, 2017

Springtime brings with it new life – flowers blooming, baby animals being born, the miracle of Easter. With our attention on creation, we as a society choose to mark a Sunday every May as “Mother’s Day”, pouring extra gratitude and love out onto the women who birthed us, raised us and supported us. We also reflect with reverence and fondness on the mothers in our lives who have passed away – some older, like our grandmothers, and some younger, dying of illness or accidents too soon.
There is a special group we are challenging you to consider in your prayers this year – women suffering with fistulas. Women who may or may not be mothers to living children, who may or may not have anyone celebrating them at all. According to a United Nations report from 2015, 70-80% of the babies born to mothers in obstructed labor (the mothers who are most likely to develop fistulas) will be stillborn.  Of those who do survive, there is a high risk of para- or quadriplegia, cerebral palsy and other defects related to low fetal oxygenation while the mother is pushing.
Motherhood is simply defined as “the state of being a mother.” This definition doesn’t exist solely in the present tense, it doesn’t have conditions. Famous artists, like Michelangelo with his Pieta, and famous authors, like Maya Angelou in Mom & Me & Mom, have tried to capture the spirit of motherhood and its endlessness in ways we all understand – but find so difficult to put into words.  Mothers who have departed from us do not stop being our mothers – so what of mothers who suffer on the opposite end of the spectrum? Are mothers who lose their baby or a child any less in that state of motherhood? Their child is with them always, a part of their existence and the course of their life. Whether their child lived thirty seconds or thirty years, the hopes, dreams and prayers for the life a mother supported likely differ little from those of every other mother around the globe. Surely the very act of hoping, dreaming and praying is an integral part of the transition from “woman” to “Mother”.
Women with fistula are desperate for new beginnings and life of their own – for repairs that will help them transition back to their communities and families, for cesarean sections that will bring their babies safely into the world with less risk of consequence from obstructed labor. They are desperate for HOPE. Is there a better place from which to honor our own mothers than from a mother’s constant place of generosity, support and love? As Mother’s Day approaches, we invite you to partner with us to honor our own mothers and these beautiful mothers in other parts of the world with your prayers.  Additionally, if you feel so moved, please consider making a gift for a mother in your life by supporting fistula care and prevention programs, whether by way of a Mother’s Day card or any other donation format available at hopeforoursisters.org.
Motherhood is eternal, as is hope. Thank you for your support of the sisters we care so deeply for at this special time of year.
Written by Cara Daniels, Hope for Our Sisters Team Member & Hope Generator
 

Hope is on the Way this Mother’s Day April 25, 2017

Filed under: Hope — Brooke F. Sulahian @ 5:40 pm
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I am sitting on a train, headed from my job in the city to my home, where my daughter has a fever and needs her mom. But I am not worried. Help is on the way.
After an all-morning meeting, I checked my phone: 3 missed calls from daycare. My daughter had a fever of 102, and needed to be picked up, preferably within an hour. Unfortunately, it had already been an hour since they called. I checked the train schedule. A train had just left; the next one wouldn’t leave for an hour, and with the commute, I wouldn’t be able to get her for another two hours. I briefly panicked-what do I do? How do I get there in time? Then I took a deep breath and called for help. My mother-in-law works closer to my home, and I took a chance she’d be able to leave sooner than I would. She answered immediately, and in no time, she was on her way to pick up my daughter. She loves her granddaughter, and as much as it was a gift to my daughter to be taken home, this act of love was a gesture of love to me: “I will help you.”
Meanwhile, I had an hour to kill in the train station. I ate lunch. I bought some books for my daughter, a special treat to give her on her sick day home. And while I wished that I had been able to get there in time, I also felt deep gratitude that someone else who dearly loves my daughter was able and willing to step in and help. The message to my daughter was, “Help is on the way.”
And this is what God asks of us.
When our sisters are bleeding dangerous amounts during childbirth, suffering excruciating labors, delivering stillborn babies, and sitting alone in their huts, outcast and abandoned because of their leaking and stench, God turns to us. He says, My daughter needs help. I want to help her, but you can get there faster. Will you help?
When our sisters need emergency C-sections but can’t afford one at the only hospital trained to perform the surgery, God turns to us: My daughter needs help. Will you help?
When our sisters need education and skills to continue their lives after healing, God turns to us: My daughter needs help. Will you help?
Like my desire to be immediately by my daughter’s side in her time of need, God would love nothing more than to immediately pick up each and every one of our sisters at risk of, suffering from, or healing from fistula. So He has designed a way to do so: by calling us when His daughters are in need, the same way I called my mother-in-law. My daughter needs help. Can I send you?
Thankfully, my mother-in-law answered the phone, was able to leave work, and joyfully responded to my need-which, in turn, led to my daughter being taken care of more quickly. Had she not answered, or been too busy, or not been interested, I would have felt panicked. Had she said, “Not today, maybe another day,” I would have been crestfallen. I know that eventually I would have made it home, but it would have taken longer, delaying my daughter’s ability to get home, put on pajamas, and snuggle up to rest. And it would have meant that the next time I needed to rely on someone, my mother-in-law might not have been the first person I called. She might have lost my trust.
Clearly, a fever is not as serious as fistula. But as a parent, anything that ails your child can break your heart. And while I’m not God, we share this in common: we are both parents, and we both call on others to help us take care of our dearly beloved, spectacularly adored daughters. None of us can fill the role that God fills in our sisters’ lives, no more so than my mother-in-law can take my place in my daughter’s life. But in a moment of need, she was there. That tells my daughter two things: first, that someone loves her enough to be right by her side. And second, that her mother can be trusted-even though I couldn’t physically be there, I didn’t abandon her. I made sure she was taken care of.
So when our sisters need help, and God calls us to step in, what will we say?
For every daughter of God whose pain has become hope, and whose hope has become joy, I pray the answer is yes. By saying yes, we teach them that they are loved dearly by women around the world, sisters they’ve never met. And we teach them that God can be trusted-that He hears their prayers, knows their names, and will send help, if only we will answer the call. This Mother’s Day, let us honor God’s love for His daughters by letting them know that help-and hope-is on the way.
Written by Dianna Sawyer, Hope for Our Sisters Partner in Hope.
hopeforoursisters.org