About two years ago my mom took a trip to Ethiopia through World Vision to see the work of Healing Hands of Joy. While she was there, she befriended Alison Shigo, the founder of Healing Hands of Joy. Close to around the time my mom got back I told her that I wanted to climb Kili after having seen a movie on it in Geography.
Allison just so happened to be in town that next weekend, and I got to meet her for the first time. I brought my idea up to Allison and she told me that climbing Kilimanjaro to raise funds for HHOJ had been something she wanted to do, and now almost two years later it is something we all get to do!
I think that the life I live in the United States every day is very normal. I mean going to Field Hockey practice isn't always something I want to do, and it's certainly not the end of the world, but sometimes having to drag myself into the car at 8:00 at night feels like it. Something that struck me the most about the women living with Obstetric Fistula in Ethiopia is this is their normal. Girls my age and younger get married off to men they probably don't like, and get pregnant. When it is time to deliver, instead of getting to go to a hosptal like everyone I know does, they usually have the child in their home without good medical care. The result is often Obstetric Fistula. It causes these women to have to live alone because their husbands usually divorce them and their communties shun them. They think they have been cursed by God. On top of that, the baby usually doesn't make it through the delivery.
I think that Healing Hands of Joy has given these women hope in the best way possible- through each other. The Safe Motherhood Ambassador program gives these women an opportunity to be educated and to learn that they are not alone and are loved by God. After they graduate the program they go out into their the communties and educate other women about how to have safe and healthy deliveries. Not only does it help eliminate the amount of cases, but it empowers women to help each other.
My goal is to raise $5,000 which would pay for five women to go through HHOJ's Safe Motherhood Ambassador program. All donation amounts are greatly appreciated and as I am paying my own way up the mountain, every donation will go directly to Healing Hands of Joy.
Thank you all so much,
My story may pale in comparison to my sister's, but my attention and concern for women with fistula does not. I have loved getting to know Allison, and the inter-workings of what Healing Hands of Joy is all about. I am very excited to hike the mountain this summer to help raise money and awareness for HHOJ. I hope that we will be able to make an immediate impact on the lives of Ethiopian women.