Happy Thanksgiving

Rotary Update
Global Grant # 1981430
"The Sierra Leone Fistula Project"

Thanksgiving Message from Dorthe Tate, President, FFFUS

As we approach Thanksgiving and ponder on all that we have and hold and are grateful for, I am conscious that I have more than most to be grateful for.

I just returned from a week in our Aberdeen’s Women’s Center in Freetown, Sierra Leone. A week that was packed with joy, sadness, frustration and gratefulness. It was wonderful to be there and see that impact that our clinic is having in the community of Freetown and beyond. It is always heartbreaking to see that women suffer from obstetric fistula - a condition that could so easily be avoided, if only there were more midwives and better facilities to give birth in.

This condition is debilitating enough in itself, but the majority of the women we serve have been ostracized from their communities and are shunned by their own families. We are able to give them back their dignity and good health. While I was there we had a Gladi Gladi celebration to celebrate their repair and the new life ahead of them. It was such a day of joy and seeing the ladies in their lovely dresses that our own tailor made for each lady, was one of the high points of my week.

We had the wonderful opportunity to spend lots of time with the teenage mothers in our new sanctuary home. We have built a lovely, temporary, home for these women - young mothers, who have been either thrown out from their families or have lost their families in the ebola crisis or other sad circumstances. The fathers of their babies have also abandoned them.
This is not an uncommon situation, sadly. But we feel we can help get them off the streets and teach them basic skills, allowing them not only to be better and more responsible mothers, but we train them in skills that will allow them to find employment.

The saddest part of my trip was getting to know a 5 year old patient. She was being treated for a fistula related to her being violently raped by a family member. She was also paralyzed from the waist down, due to this heinous act. No one had charged the family member with this rape - nothing was being done to see justice happen. In fact the little girl was being told not to say anything. This was heartbreaking and infuriating. Sadly, this is something we see every year. I am pleased to say that we did get the police involved and the uncle was charged and is currently in jail awaiting trial.

Then there were all the babies being born! In that week we must have had way over 100 babies born. We had numerous cesarean deliveries every day. Had our clinic not been there, these births would very easily have ended in tragedy - still born babies and fistulas to follow the complicated births.

I am happy to say that I even attended a rotary lunch while I was there. This is the club that will support us in our global grant. I was impressed with the membership and their commitment to see change happen in their communities. They focused on fighting corruption and seeing justice happen. Music to my ears! I was very encouraged as I left their gathering that day.

All of our work would not be possible without support from Rotary. You are the people that allow us to serve these families. So, as we get close to Thanksgiving I would like to thank you all for your amazing support.

We have so much to be grateful for and it is a gift to be able to give back. I am very grateful for your support and wish you and your families a happy Thanksgiving.

Warmest wishes,

Dorthe Tate
President, Freedom from Fistula