Women with fistula's are often ostracized by their community because of their smell. They are abandoned by their families, their spouses and their loved ones. They often escape humiliating conditions and lives riddled with shame to walk miles to the hospital. The Hamlin Fistula Hospital provides surgery to the victims of obstetrics fistula for free. Sometimes the tissue damage is so severe the fistula cannot be repaired. The hospital created a village called Desta Mender 'Village of Joy' for patients that require long term care. Werke Ghiwot is one of these women (pictured above), she suffers from an un-repairable fistula. Werke is learning new skills in handicrafts so she can earn money. The hospital has offered her a job opportunity to train other women to learn skills and gain confidence so they can be reintegrated into society.
I am traveling to Ethiopia at the end of November to work with the Fistula Foundation in Addis Ababa and Salaam Garage to create a series of portraits and stories of women who have made the journey from medical statistic to survivor and active participant in their community. I will be interviewing the women to hear about their journey, how their condition developed, how they came to the hospital, and how the hospital has changed their lives. I want to share the stories of these women, their courage, their strength, and the difficulties they overcame. I will be combining words from my interviews with my images, along with words from their diagnosis to demonstrate, express, and exemplify their individuality and the uniqueness of their experience, how they dealt with their medical condition and where they are now. Obstetrics Fistula can be prevented with better education and birthing care for women. The hospital is working hard to provide access to support in rural villages. My goal is to present my artwork in galleries and community centers to educate the public and communities about the condition and stress how imperative it is for women in developing countries to be empowered to make the right choices for their families, their lives, and their bodies. Your generous donation will go towards creating the work and producing, printing and framing the material that will help me spread the word.
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