Sunday, March 29, 2009

The 169th good thing about Lagos: Helping a charity in their efforts to repair women's bodies and lives

This picture is of me receiving a check for 1 million naira (about $6800 at the current official exchange rate), the American Women's Club's portion of the proceeds from the recent Small World charity event. I was pleased to receive it -- from women who did a lot of hard work on the charity event -- on behalf of our designated charity, The Family Life Centre - the Fistula Clinic. Our charity recipient, which is down in the Delta area in Akwa Ibom State (near Port Harcourt) gives hope and rescue for women who have incurred an obstetric fistula. This is a complication of childbirth that is rarely seen in the developed world, but occurs more often in third world countries where many expectant mothers are unable to get medical care. It is also seen more often in young mothers, whose bodies are not ready to deliver a baby vaginally. This injury often occurs when a woman has an obstructed labor, sometimes for 5 days or longer, and cannot get a Caesarean section when needed. The mother usually loses her baby and her internal damage leads to urinary and/or rectal incontinence. The resulting health and hygiene problems often result in lives of women who live as outcasts, discarded by society. This hospital performs surgeries for these women who often live without hope. If you are interested in learning more about this problem, try to get a chance to see the documentary "A Walk To Beautiful" It's about a similar hospital performing these surgical repairs in Ethiopia.

I won't be able to ever visit this charity because it is in a part of Nigeria where white expats must have a really good reason to travel, because of the compelling security risks there. The charity has suffered from the exodus of expats from the area, as they were a helpful source of donations and support for the organization. Some of the expats who were living in the Port Harcourt area and then were evacuated up here to Lagos have become great supporters of the charity, raising awareness about their work and trying to raise funds to help support the clinic. Because of their efforts and their trust and confidence in the work done there, we chose The Fistula Clinic to be our designated recipient. We just located someone traveling to the Delta this week who will deliver the check to the charity. Below are some pictures of the charity that I have received from those who have had closer contact with the Clinic.

The Fistula Clinic has nuns who are also doctors who perform surgeries on some of the more simple cases. They also pay for doctors to come from the UK to perform surgeries on some of the more complicated cases. They said that generally the surgery can be performed for about 50,000 naira (about $340).

The Small World committee restricts the use of their funds to capital expenses -- something that can be documented and the improvement can be seen, so there is less opportunity for corruption. So the funds we raised can't be used for salaries or surgeries directly. But the nuns are happy to use the funds to purchase and install solar panels, so the clinic can have a reliable source of power. The fuel for their generator is expensive and the panels will help them have lights and power (always a plus when performing surgery!) without high continuing expenses. Their preliminary estimates show that there may also be some funds left over to provide some operating theater lighting.

I like the looks of this charity in these pictures, and I've enjoyed email conversations with the Sister Doctor in charge of the clinic. I know they will use these funds wisely and I'm very happy that we are able to support them in their efforts to repair women's bodies and lives.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

This is wonderful. It also reminds me that even though I am sometimes disgusted with the care given here, at least it's something, that many would be grateful for. I'm glad you can participate in helping them. What sweet, precious women!