Freedom From Fistula

Our speaker on 26 August 2020 was Sue Hope who runs a Scottish Charity Consultancy.  At our meeting she was representing “Freedom from Fistula”, a charity supporting young women in Sierra Leone, Malawi and Madagascar.

At the meeting we heard about the decision of the World Health Organisation to announce that the continent of Africa is now free from the Wild Polio Virus.  We all understand the significance of this announcement, but we appreciate that there is still a lot to do in terms of keeping the population of Africa polio free until the virus completely dies out.

We also expressed our Birthday Greetings to our friend Roy Ashby, who that day was celebrating his 100th birthday!  Roy is still an active Rotarian and an example to us all.

The Club will be piloting a new quiz system next week, in preparation for their event being held on Saturday 03 October 2020.  We are all keen to see how well it performs.

It was then time for Sue Hope to address the Club.  Many young women in sub-Saharan Africa fail to have access to medical care during labour, and consequently suffer from obstetric fistula when the baby cannot be delivered.  Often, the baby dies from the stress caused by the failure to deliver, and the mother can end up with severe complications including double incontinence.  What makes this even more distressing is the age of the young girls concerned, and the subsequent ostracisation by husband, family and friends.

We learned that all these problems can be avoided, easily, provided there is trained medical expertise on hand during labour.  Also, once the problems have occured, simple corrective surgery will often return the patient to a fully functioning and rewarding life.

The current Covid-19 pandemic means that the work of Freedom from Fistula has had to be reduced, but much of the educational work and support services have continued.  In particular we learned about the work of the Aberdeen Women’s Centre in Freetown, Sierra Leone and, thanks to Sue’s excellent presentation, we got to know some of the people that the centre has helped. The Rotary Foundation has supported Freedom from Fistula over the years with funds for educational programmes and 4-wheel drive ambulances.

Sue lives in Scotland, and is well known to many Rotary Clubs there, but we were very happy that she had Zoomed South of the Border to deliver her excellent talk.

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