Hope For Our Sisters, Inc. is happy to provide our fifth impact report on the project that you have so generously helped fund through GlobalGiving. As you may recall, we began this project in order to support our partners at the CEML hospital in Lubango, Angola, as they empower women recovering from fistula surgery with craft skills, gardening lessons, literacy/numeracy education, and teaching in local languages. We refer to this program as Aftercare. Many women who have suffered from fistula have been abandoned by their husbands and families, and are unable to return to their villages and pick up life as it was. Left to provide for themselves in a context that is so different from the life they expected, many women are deeply disadvantaged because of their lack of formal education and skills training. One such woman is Rosa, whose life was changed by the services at CEML in 2021.
Rosa is unsure of exactly how old she is, but she speculates she is about fifty years old now. Her fistula occured with her first and only pregnancy, when she was in her late teens or early twenties. She has lived more than half of her life leaking both urine and feces, abandoned by her husband who did not think her problem was curable and did not want to be "burdened" with her. Rosa heard about fistula surgeries at CEML from another fistula patient and decided to make the journey.
When she arrived, the staff described her as angry - it is easy to see why. She was far from home in a place where her native language and accent were not typical, she did not understand why she would need multiple procedures over several months to be cured, and she had been living the life of an outcast for decades. Scars had formed over her heart. As the staff began to explain the minimum of three procedures necessary to close her fistulas, one of which was very complicated and one of which required use of a colostomy (external fecal diversion bag) between phases, the other fistula patients rallied around Rosa. She placed her trust in this new community, and today, after a long road, she is dry and healed!
Over the months she spent at CEML, Rosa engaged heavily with the Aftercare program, and reaped wonderful benefits. Unable to read or write, she began taking classes to read in her own language, as well as how to speak Portugese, the official language of Angola. She became a teacher as well, showing other women how to bead in the traditional style of her ethnic group. She left her rage and heartbreak behind her, and welcomed in a spirit of generosity with her time and skills, and a desire to change her own life for the better in ways beyond the physical healing offered by surgery.
This would not be possible without your generous investment in our Aftercare program. We are so excited to be able to come alongside our sisters as they strive for knowledge that will improve their lives and change their communities, making their nation a better place for girls in the coming generations. We will continue to send reports every few months, and share photos and individual patient stories as able. Please spread the word to those you know who might be interested in our work, and follow along on our Facebook page (Hope For Our Sisters, Inc.).