Today on Bonus Day, I want you to meet a very special lady.
Msonde is 82-years-old; she had her first child in 1958. With the delivery of that baby, she developed an obstetric fistula that left her chronically incontinent. With access to high quality, emergency maternal healthcare, it is likely that this debilitating disability could have been prevented. With knowledge about her condition, Msonde could have received treatment to correct her fistula.
The tragedy is Msonde lived with fistula for over 60 years.
“I managed to live with fistula for such a long time because of my husband’s support,” she says. “He ignored our family and our community when they used to stigmatize me. He was an exceptional husband. He never stigmatized me as others did. He always stood by my side. I remember he used to quarrel with his relatives because of me, God rest him in peace.”
Msonde and her husband went on to have a total of five children, which she delivered in spite of her fistula, but there were still many trials. Most of the time, Msonde avoided community gatherings, and avoided drinking water because of her chronic incontinence, especially on days when she was supposed to attend church.
This year, Msonde’s niece who lives in Dar es Salaam came to her village as a CCBRT ambassador. She explained what fistula was, and shared that treatment was available and free of charge. Msonde could barely believe it, but she traveled over 700 miles to Dar es Salaam to be evaluated for treatment.
“When I arrived at CCBRT, I could not believe it was possible, but I found many women undergoing fistula treatment.”
Now sitting in recovery in the CCBRT Fistula Ward after a successful surgery, she raises her hands in prayer for her husband. “I wish my husband could have been alive. We are now old, but he could have been able to see me walking freely.”
Today, your donation will be matched 50% by our friends at GlobalGiving until midnight or the matching funds run out. That means that we can reach more women like Msonde with the high quality maternal healthcare, life-changing surgical and rehabilitative care and stigma-busting information they need.
No woman should live with preventable, treatable fistula for 60 years, or even 6 months. Our vision is a Tanzania without fistula, where every woman can walk freely and in the fullness of her potential. Please consider giving today before matching funds expire.
Thank you for your support.
Today, we celebrate the fifth annual International Day to End Obstetric Fistula. In the past five years, we have been encouraged to see this preventable, treatable childbirth injury receiving much needed attention and life changing action implemented across the globe.
We’ve witnessed an increase in cases at our partner hospital in Tanzania, CCBRT, as women realized that their condition was treatable, broke their silence, and were referred for treatment. Thanks to your generous support, and the support of our partners including Fistula Foundation, Johnson & Johnson and Direct Relief, over 4,370 women and girls received comprehensive treatment for obstetric fistula at CCBRT and partner facilities across Tanzania in the last five years. With the continued support of our global community, that number will continue to climb.
Helping to carry the burden
Women and girls with obstetric fistula need a comprehensive team of health professionals – from surgeons to counselors – for holistic recovery. Surgery can address the physical symptoms, but many women have also faced emotional wounds from abandonment, rejection, and traumatic loss. That’s why our program invests in training for nurses like Damaris.
“I always do the night shift, so I have lots of time to talk.” In fact, talking is part of her job. Damaris is one of very few nurses in Tanzania trained in counseling – an essential service for women and girls navigating their recovery from obstetric fistula.
Before joining the team on CCBRT’s fistula ward, Damaris completed counseling training at a nearby university. She explains: “Working with women recovering from fistula is emotional. After training, I can be strong to help carry their burden and help them move past their painful experiences.”
Damaris adds, “Even if women are physically healed from fistula, without counseling they are only halfway toward recovery. They need to know that there is life after fistula. They can return to their communities. They can connect with friends and family. They can start their own business.”
“They are women just like me”
Damaris recalls one patient specifically, with a complicated case of two fistulae. Damaris noticed her patient’s distress; she didn’t talk to anyone and spent all of her time alone. In counseling, the woman began to open up about her experience of abandonment, telling Damaris, “I’m not even wanted by my own mother and father.” But Damaris knew her patient’s future was bright. “I told her that everything was possible, that she would go back happy. And that I would support her every day until she went home dry.” The woman made a full recovery, and months later, she and Damaris still talk on the phone.
What inspires Damaris’ commitment to the fistula ward? “They are women just like me. Their stories should be heard. Even though I can’t solve everything, I know that talking makes a big difference.”
There is great need for psychological support for women recovering from fistula in Tanzania. Damaris hopes that CCBRT can continue to train more fistula nurses in specialized counseling skills – “especially nurses on the night shift!”
Today, and every day, we celebrate the strength of the women and girls we are proud to serve, and the healthcare workers like Damaris who work so diligently to provide the respectful and comprehensive care their patients deserve. Thank you for the part you play through your generous support of our work.
P.S., A note on data protection
At Kupona Foundation, we’re proud of the global nature of our community. We take the privacy and security of our partners and supporters around the world very seriously, and the new regulations coming out of the European Union have given us an opportunity to make our policies clearer. We wanted to let you know that when you make a donation to Kupona Foundation through our projects listed on GlobalGiving.org we receive access to the data you share. We store this information in our secure constituent relationship management system, Little Green Light, for record keeping purposes only. We will never contact you outside of the GlobalGiving reports and acknowledgement systems unless you have given us permission to do so. If you’d like to read more about our privacy policies, including how we use Little Green Light, you can take a look at our latest privacy notice, which is permanently available on our website.
As I celebrate my third Mother’s Day as a mom, I remain incredibly grateful for the skilled healthcare providers who saved my son’s life the day he was born. If circumstances were different, my complicated delivery could have ended in tragedy. All too often, tragedy is the reality for families in Tanzania, as expectant mothers deliver in overcrowded facilities with under resourced staff.
One of the greatest obstacles to delivering high quality healthcare in Tanzania is a shortage of skilled, well-equipped healthcare workers.Tanzania alone can count on just 5.2 clinical health workers per 10,000 people: one fifth of the optimal ratio recommended by the World Health Organization. The health workforce that does exist has limited access to medical education and professional development.
With your support, our colleagues at CCBRT have been taking action to train and build the capacity of healthcare workers in Tanzania and further afield for many years. Until now, CCBRT’s efforts to strengthen the health workforce have been implemented in both CCBRT’s hospital in Dar es Salaam and at partner facilities across the country. They had no dedicated training facility, and no formalized central training program.
That’s all about to change.
Thanks to you, the Kupona community, and our partners Johnson & Johnson and the UCLA Anderson School of Management, we are celebrating the launch of the CCBRT Academy: a Centre for Excellence in Clinical Education.
“[The CCBRT Academy] is the realization of a vision that we have had for a long time,” says CCBRT’s Technical Advisor for Training and Capacity Building, Tilman Hannig. Through a unique combination of in-person training, online education and practical, hands-on experience, “it will allow us to better professionalize and develop our own staff, as well as health workers from beyond CCBRT.”
The Academy will be a learning environment of the highest quality to enrich educational experiences for the region’s healthcare heroes. We are excited to see the CCBRT Academy thrive, and address one of the most serious challenges facing the healthcare system in Tanzania. As Tilman says, “We have the space. Now we need to fill it with life.”
This Mother’s Day, we invite you to give today in celebration of mothers around the world, and the dedicated healthcare workers who help families to thrive. Today is your last chance to help us unlock prize funding, and to help Tilman and team fill the CCBRT Academy with life! Don't forget, GlobalGiving will award bonus prizes to the top five projects with the most unique donors before midnight tonight.
Thank you to the healthcare heroes, and to each of you, for helping make their work possible.
Wishing you a very happy Mother’s Day.
Last week, I partnered with our friends at Women Deliver and #DeliverforGood to talk about inclusion. You can read my full article here.
In Tanzania, 4.2 million people live with a disability and approximately 2.4 million of them are women. Yet their needs and rights are often neglected or overlooked: particularly when it comes to obstetric care.
For an expectant mother living with a disability in Tanzania, pregnancy compounds her vulnerability. Often, she may not have access to information about her own reproductive rights or maternal health services. She may struggle to communicate with providers to understand important health information, or she may be physically unable to access facilities. In most cases, healthcare workers have simply not been exposed to disability inclusive care, and do not understand the challenges their patient is facing.
A mother with a hearing impairment, for example, shared that her nurse was unaware of her condition during delivery. Every time the nurse said ‘push’, the patient thought she was saying ‘wait’ – a dangerous break-down of communication that put the life of both mother and baby at risk. Another mother was blind and had to remind the nurse that she was blind, but not unintelligent or unable to speak for herself.
To ensure a more inclusive environment, our program was designed in collaboration with people with disabilities. The only way to ensure the rights of all women are realized is to give them a voice in the design of their own healthcare services. We made a collective effort to address all needs for information, communication, and infrastructure. This included the training of healthcare providers to ensure sensitivity and equity when working with pregnant women living with disabilities. Investments in infrastructure, including redesigning washrooms and installing ramps, further helped to improve access and inclusion.
Testimonies of changed behaviors among healthcare workers are heartening. I remember a patient with a hearing impairment was very upset when nurses tried to treat her sick baby. When the nurses, who had received inclusion training, used sign language to explain what they were doing, the mother's demeanor changed because she understood what was happening and felt included in the decisions about her child's care.
While great progress has been made, there is still much to be done as we continue our work to ensure that no mother is left behind. Today, I would like to invite you to join me to support training for more healthcare workers in respectful, inclusive healthcare.
We only have 7 days left to unlock prize funding. Give today through our GlobalGiving project. GlobalGiving will award bonus prizes to the top five projects with the most unique donors before May 13th. Together, we can ensure no mother is left behind.
Thank you for your support.
This is one of our favorite times of the year. With Mother’s Day, International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, International Midwife’s Day and International Nurses Day, May is a month full of opportunities to celebrate and show our support for mothers, their children, and the healthcare workers who serve them.
Starting today, until May 13th, our friends at GlobalGiving will award bonus prizes to the top five projects with the most unique donors. Make a donation of any amount through our nominated GlobalGiving project today, and bring us closer to winning bonus prizes, and supporting more nurses like Ladness.
Frontline healthcare teams in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania face daily battles to provide care that will save lives at birth, and prevent and treat injuries and disabilities with limited resources. But for nurses like Ladness, the rewards far outweigh the difficulties.
“I like being a nurse because it never stops giving. I get the opportunity to learn new things every day…It is very heart-warming to see babies coming here very ill but leaving free of sickness.”
Ladness works in one of the 23 health facilities supported by our comprehensive maternal & newborn healthcare capacity building program. Thanks to your generosity and the support of our partners, Ladness has received the training and equipment she needs to save the lives of sick newborns, and also identify disabilities at birth for early treatment. She has also been able to empower the next generation of healthcare workers to do the same.
“I have been able to pass on the knowledge from CCBRT trainings to untrained nurses and volunteers in the ward. Together, we’ve really improved the management of newborn illnesses and complications.”
That improvement shows. From 2010 to 2016, the quality of maternal, newborn and child healthcare services at Ladness’ hospital climbed from 5% to 85%. That means more lives saved, more women receiving high quality emergency obstetric care, more healthy babies safely delivered, and more children born with impairments referred for the treatment they need.
Thank you for supporting Ladness, her colleagues, and the families they are so proud to serve.
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