Thirty women receive free surgeries in only five days
Solidarity Fund African Woman International (SOLFA) and the Gertler Family Foundation (GFF) have formed a unique partnership to address obstetric fistula — a physically and psychologically horrible injury that is prevalent in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Obstetric fistula is a small hole created by the pressure of the woman’s unborn child due to
an obstruction during childbirth, or after being raped. It is estimated that thousands of women and even girls, have been suffering from sexual violence that caused them a physical ans psychological fistula. For women in undeveloped nations, obstructed labor can last a week. For this entire time, the woman giving birth is in excruciating pain, devoid of medicine or medical assistance. The obstetric fistula renders her incontinent, if she survives the ordeal. More than likely, the baby dies. Those who survive, in addition to the pain and ramifications of the incontinence, are often rejected by their husbands, families and communities.
Sustainable funding to support fistula repair and treatments
The GFF-SOLFA partnership created an income-generating project, which will ensure long-term funding for fistula intervention into the future. A $40,000 grant from GFF was used to construct a creamery at Hôpital Général de Référence St. Luc de Kisantu, in Bas-Congo Province. The creamery produces soy milk and other soy products, which are sold to local communities and even as far as Kinshasha in the DRC’s central region. The money generated from sales is used to pay for free surgeries for women afflicted with fistula, as well as for their transportation to the clinic, follow-up care and other medical costs associated with recovery.
The latest mission of Belgian doctors and local medical professionals lasted five days. In this short amount of time, 30 women suffering from fistula received free surgeries, putting them on their way not only to physical normalcy, but also to rebuilding their life within Congolese society.
SOLFA was founded in 2006 in Belgium by Professor Dirk De Ridder, Professor Kanigula Mubagwa and Dr. Lorrie Vandeginste.