Imagine this. You are young, pregnant and scared. You are hungry, because the yields in the village this year were poor. You are tired and in labour with your first child. You felt like you were too young to marry but it was the way it was done. You married shortly after your first period at age 13, but you did not yet look like a woman. The women surrounding you now, are afraid, the child isn’t moving. There are no doctors, or nurses, in your village or the next. There is no help. Two sunsets have fallen.
Eventually your body ejects the baby, though it is dead. You are in pain, your insides are on fire. A hole has been torn between your bladder and vagina and another between your vagina and rectum. The damage left your body unable to control its normal excretory functions, and urine and faeces were constantly dripping down your legs. Your husband quickly rejects you as do the village people. You live on the outskirts of town, alone, poor and ill.
You can read real stories here
Childbirth, especially in the developing world, is a dangerous business. It is often compounded by poverty, poor health, lack of choice and education, and structures that do not respect each woman and her rights. According to the World Health Organisation:
- Every day, approximately 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.
- 99% of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries.
- Maternal mortality is higher in women living in rural areas and among poorer communities.
- Young adolescents face a higher risk of complications and death as a result of pregnancy than older women.
- Skilled care before, during and after childbirth can save the lives of women and newborn babies.
- Between 1990 and 2013, maternal mortality worldwide dropped by almost 50%.
Last year, I read a book about an Australian doctor, Dr Catherine Hamlin, and her husband, Dr Reg Hamlin, and their story of moving to Ethiopia and setting up a treatment clinic for fistula. To give you context, for a population of almost 100 million, Ethiopia has less than 200 obstetricians or gynecologists and less than 5,000 trained midwives. Poverty is rife and access to healthcare is difficult. Their organisation, not only treats these injuries but also has changed lives by setting up a group home for those with nowhere to go to and trained midwives.
Following that lasting impression, and hearing the stories of women not only in Ethiopia, but in other parts of the developing world, motivates me to regularly support this charity’s work. This year, like last year that means selling (or asking people to sell) fundraiser goodies, and hosting a high tea, though this years will be a smaller affair than last. The organisation also sets you up with a fundraising page which is linked below. I am hoping to raise $1000 this year. Last year we raised almost $2000, which exceeded all my expectations. So I am encouraging you to help me reach my target by heading to my fundraising page.