This is Women's History Month, and
I'm reading Half the Sky, which you should read. Right now. If you haven't already, go and get it
Putting the two together, I would like honor some particular woman by telling her story here. From Half the Sky comes the story of
Think of your typical thirteen year old kid. That's how old Mahabouba was when she got a first job, as a maid. Or so she thought: it turned out she was a second wife—to a 60 year old man. The first wife beat her, and the old goat beat her and raped her. She kept running away, but they caught her, brought her back, and beat her some more. She finally managed to escape, but by then she was seven months pregnant. The people in town wanted to take her back to her “husband”, so she ran again, back to her native village. No one there would help her either.
She went to drown herself in the river, when an uncle offered help, and gave her a hut to stay in. Before long she went into labor, but no baby came, and the labor kept on, for SEVEN DAYS! Then, she passed out, and someone called a birth attendant. When she came to, the baby was dead, she couldn't walk or even stand because of nerve damage, and she couldn't control her bowels or bladder because parts of her pelvic tissues had rotted away and created a fistula.
With all this bad luck, all the villagers, including the uncle's wife, said she was cursed and they didn't want her around. They took her to a hut on the edge of town and left her there. They even took the doors off so the hyenas could get in to kill her. When it got dark, they came. She couldn't move her legs, but for the whole night she yelled and hit at them with a stick to keep them away.
She was fourteen years old.
She had heard that there was a western missionary in the next town over, so when daylight came, she CRAWLED to there.
If that doesn't fill you with admiration and respect, you're not a human being. Unlike thousands of other girls, at least a hundred thousand PER YEAR, Mahabouba's story has a happy ending. She found the missionary, they helped her, she got reconstructive surgery, one of the measly 6500 every year (do the math) and she is now a Senior Nurse's Aide in the hospital that saved her life.
These things don't happen here, we have C-sections. They don't, so stuff like this happens to them. Once it does, if there's a hospital to do it, 90% of fistulas are repairable, and it costs a measly 300 bucks.
What can I do to help?
Not a lot from here, it seems like, but you can give a tax-deductible donation to the Fistula Foundation.There's another thing. They have a program called the Circle of Friends, it's kind of like holding a Tupperware party, only better. You could gather a bunch of your friends together and show a video or something to spread awareness. These events can have tremendous effect, and aren't hard to do. One person (link) kicked things off by asking “What was your most embarassing moment?” You can imagine the responses—laughing, mis-sent emails, fashion disasters—American stuff. Simeesh wasn't there to tell about getting kicked off that bus.
For more information, Fistula Foundation encourages you to email them at email@example.com.