hopesightings

finding hope and sharing it

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

 

 

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Standing with Our Sisters…Unleashing Strength and Potential November 27, 2016

Filed under: Hope — Brooke F. Sulahian @ 3:19 am
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ak-as-elisa-post-surgery (Elisa, recovering from fistula surgery)

 

I crouched in my hospital gown, leaning on the woman holding my IV tube while another woman in front of me held a cup beneath my legs. And I realized something profound: I was not ashamed.

 

I had every reason to be ashamed. I was mostly naked, bleeding, and shaking on very weak legs. All the parts of my body that made me female were sore; I was sweaty and un-showered after over 15 hours of labor. And yet, in that moment, I was not ashamed.

 

The reason is simple: I was surrounded by women. I’d never before felt so fully woman as I did in those moments after giving birth, because fellow women – sisters – rushed to my side and cared for me in my weakness, my exhaustion, and my pain. They cleaned me, comforted me, and ushered me into the beautiful sisterhood of women – a sisterhood I had always been a part of, but never fully understood. These women made me feel powerful, strong, and capable – even though I couldn’t use the bathroom on my own. And I knew they wouldn’t leave my side.

 

By this point I had been a Partner in Hope with HFOS for over a year, but it wasn’t until this moment that I realized how powerful this opportunity was. No, I couldn’t physically help clean a sister, or wrap my arms around her and tell her she was strong. But from across the ocean, my monthly donations enable other sisters to be there for each other. These sisters serve not only to clean, support, and encourage each other, though – they help unleash the undeniable strength and potential of every woman.

 

In all of us there is a fighter. A warrior. Sometimes that warrior comes out when we need to fight for ourselves, stand up to adversity, or take charge. And sometimes it comes out when one of our sisters is weak. We stand by each other. We bend so that a sister can lean on our back. We clean up the mess and tell her it’s ok to ask for help – that someday, she’ll be helping another sister who needs her.

 

Our sisters in Nepal, Angola, and the Congo were created with the same undeniable strength and potential that I was, that my mother was, that my daughter was, that the nurses in my delivery room were. And while in this moment of time they are relying on sisters like us, they should not be ashamed. They should feel proud and powerful to be women. They should feel beautiful and strong. They should know that at any time, any woman in the world could be in need of a sister. And with fistulas healed and dignity restored, they’ll go out and be that sister to lean on.

Written by Dianna Sawyer, Hope for Our Sisters Partner in Hope.

© 2016 by Dianna Sawyer

 

To learn more about fistula and how to unleash our sisters’ strength and potential, visit our website: hopeforoursisters.org.

 

GETTING MUDDY FOR HOPE September 12, 2015

Filed under: Hope — Brooke F. Sulahian @ 1:58 pm
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Mudderella-Participants

Exciting, challenging, empowering, heartbreaking, awe-inspiring, exhausting, uplifting and joyous. This is how I describe the adventure of running Hope for Our Sisters, Inc. (HFOS), our “For-Purpose” (i.e. non-profit) organization. What a journey it has been.

Through God’s provision for and guidance through HFOS, I have been compelled to do things I never dreamed I would do…start a For-Purpose organization, travel to Africa, speak with friends, family and anyone who will listen about a relatively unknown condition, work for no salary, and give my life for others I may never meet.

And now…I am getting really muddy!

The Mudderella for Hope is the result of a young mom whose heart was moved by my sharing at her Mom to Mom group on June 1st of this year. She and a friend wanted to do the New England Mudderella and decided to do it in honor of our sisters with and at risk of fistula. Thank YOU! We now have the Muddy Madonnas, a team of beautiful women willing to work hard, challenge themselves, and raise awareness and support for our sisters.

Through my HFOS journey, I have learned to pray for God to simply “show up and surprise us” at all events. Yes, we set financial goals and targets, but you never know how events will and will not appeal to others or who will and will not support us this time around. In the end, this is God’s organization and He will do what He wants to do. He always shows up. He always surprises us.

While praying this morning, I sensed this message from God…(Visualize a smile on his face…)

“My daughter, you tell me everyday that you will say YES no matter what, that you will trust Me no matter what. So, for this event, I could give you and your team some earthly affirmation or you can wait on Me to do what I want to do with this event.”

I so enjoy being part of His bigger plan! Before HFOS, I never saw God work so clearly. All we can do is all we can do then leave the rest to Him. He is going to use the Mudderella event in a HUGE way…I can feel it. I cannot wait to see what He does through the Muddy Madonnas.

Why am I doing this? Yes, I want to raise awareness and support for our sisters. Yes, I want to do something new and accomplish challenges as a team. Yes, I want to push myself and see what I can do as I see birthday #45 in my near future. However, I also want to show Peter, Lucy and the other young kids at the event a different side of beauty…not the kind our world honors on the cover of a magazine, but a beauty in strength, confidence, teamwork and courage to push ourselves to the limit, get completely filthy, and help each other reach our goals and finish the race while we help change the lives of our sisters one woman and girl at a time.

© 2015 by Brooke F Sulahian

 

Today November 30, 2012

Filed under: Hope — Brooke F. Sulahian @ 1:40 pm
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TODAY

Today, a young girl has been given no food so her brothers can eat…where is the hope?

Today, a young girl has been married off to an older man she does not know

Today, a young girl has become pregnant…too young and too small to deliver naturally

Today, a young girl, grieving the loss of her stillborn child, has just woken up in her bed soiled with urine and feces…bewildered and ashamed

Today, a young girl has been left by her husband, kicked out of the house by her family, and forced to fend for herself due to her odor

Today, a young woman realized it is her 10th year of lying in a wet bed…hope continuing to vanish

Today, an older woman struggles through her 40th year with fistula, sitting alone in her hut unaware that a cure exists

Today, a woman cleans herself in the hope that a neighbor in her village may say “Hi” today…hope is not lost yet

Today, a woman is traveling alone on her way to a hospital, leaking with every step but not turning back, holding onto hope of a cure, a new life

Today, a young girl is carried on her father’s back to reach a hospital to be cured of fistula…feeling loved along the way

Today a woman recovers in a hospital bed, cured of fistula…hope returning

Today, a young girl returns home in new clothing after a successful fistula surgery

Today, a woman makes a home in a new community, free of fistula and its horrors

Today, a woman is welcomed back to her former community as a whole person…hope restored

Today, a young girl is given food to eat alongside her bothers

Today, a young girl is given the chance to study and learn

Today, a young girl is cherished as a gift from God and protected from the dangers in this world…hope that is real and strong

Today…

© 2012 by Brooke F Sulahian