Today our $5 challenge is asking to you to join us and be a part of something very dear to my heart.
Many of you know we have been working for the past year with Waves for Water. One of the producers of Ricki Lake went out of her way to connect me with Jon Rose, who had been a guest on their show a few weeks before I had been. I am so grateful to her.
I soon met Jack Rose, Jon’s father, who has become one of my heroes. I told him I thought Waves for Water should do a project in Ethiopia, and he 100% agreed. We were able to raise the money to send Jack a few weeks later to deliver the life-saving water filters to a rural village in Ethiopia.
A few months later, our team went back to deliver more filters and meet with the President of the Hamlin Fistula Clinic.
Most of the people in our team knew about Hamlin prior to our visit. However, once we were there, our passion grew even more as we connected first-hand with the patients there. There were quiet moments of watching a woman with drop foot from nerve damage make the long and slow strides into the Hamlin physical therapy facility. I wondered how some of these women even made the long journey to the clinic, as some of their injuries were so severe or they were sick and dying from AIDS at the time they entered the facility. A deep wave of empathy overcame me and many of our team members as we put ourselves in their place. Respect was all we had for these women – women stronger than I feel I could ever be. The old “Mom Enough” tagline that haunted me the year before suddenly seemed fitting here, except many of these women, these mothers, had their babies die in childbirth. They would never get to meet their children and watch them grow up.
One of the main causes of severe birth trauma is the lack of proper growth of the girls in these areas. They start at age two walking many miles with their mothers and other women and girls of the village to collect water from a safe water source (or the safest option available). The girls quickly move on to a container that many grown men wouldn’t be able to carry. The weight of the container and walking all day long causes stunted growth and spine deformations. The pelvis of many of the grown women was the size of a small child. When the woman becomes pregnant and gives birth, the baby will often become trapped, causing days of labor and intense friction on the pelvic area, to the point where it tears a hole in the mother. If the mother survives this traumatic birth, she is often exhausted and left with a dead baby (although, there were some women at the clinic whose babies did survive!) and they soon discover they have this severe injury that will likely ostracize them from their community and their husbands will move on and marry other women without a second thought.
Hamlin has been working to restore these women and get them back to health, as well as to prevent future fistulas. The women are watched and kept in contact with the clinic, and so if they become pregnant again, Hamlin is there to make sure they safely deliver a healthy live baby.
Now here is what we are adding to this project.
Our new project partners up with Waves for Water and Hamlin Fistula Clinic.
We want to prevent the stunted growth from occurring.
Each woman who leaves the Hamlin Fistula Clinic will be given a water filter that that can be used in a nearby water source (so it prevents the long journey to water daily).
We know most of these women have water contamination issues in their villages (water is accessible close by – but it is contaminated) so this is the start of a mass distribution of the filters.
Slowly but surely, we are hoping to see a prevention of fistulas as more and more of these filters are distributed throughout these communities.
The women now will not only come back, as they describe it, “whole” and with their dignity intact, but they will also be returning with a solution that will make them heroes.
So, join our $5 challenge and give up your designer cup of coffee or weekend beer for a cause that I personally will update you on. We are going to do this together.