By: Habiba Cooper Diallo
I am very delighted to say that our Fistula and Empowerment Program (FEP) pilot project that ran from April 10th to June 14th was very successful!
In April, I introduced the girls to obstetric fistula by showing the film A Walk to Beautiful. Then, they learned about the anatomy of obstetric fistula (essentially how it occurs from an obstructed labour).
Yolanda gave a very enlightening seminar on ‘shadeism,’ and its effects on many Black women by featuring a documentary film on the topic.
In May, we continued learning about fistula including the social consequences for fistula patients. For the ‘empowerment’ part of the session we had telling discussions around circumcision and female societies such as ‘Bondou’ in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Ntombi gave a powerful seminar around stereotypes about Black people and education and the consequences this has for the mental health of Black people. Later in the month, Rafeeda gave an extremely impressive seminar about natural hair, entitled “Am I More Than My Hair?’
Moving into June, the girls studied and discussed other aspects of obstetric fistula and fistula awareness-building in Canada. They also considered birthing practices among various nationalities and how to increase information about access to fistula treatment for women living in remote areas.
Our guest speakers included Halifax Poet Laureate, El Jones, WHOI board member, Dr. Afua Cooper, program coordinator for the Dalhousie University Promoting Leadership in health for African Noca Scotians (PLANS), Michelle Patrick, and health activist and writer, Abena Amoako-Green.
FEP remained small-scale all throughout the three months as far as funding was concerned, for we did not have any capital to put towards the program. What’s great is that in spite of our lack of funding, everyone helped to sustain the program by pitching in wherever necessary, whether that meant contributing refreshments, or bringing in materials like films and articles to share with the group. As well, our guest speakers were fantastic and we thank them immensely for sharing their insights with the group.
We are on track to continue FEP for the 2014-2015 year beginning in October. See you then!
Habiba Cooper Diallo
I am a Canadian fistula advocate and blogger, and the founder of the Women’s Health Organization International, WHOI. I have been doing fistula awareness-building in Canada for the past 9 years. My work on fistula has led me to Guinea, Ethiopia, and Sierra Leone. I have been featured in Forbes, the HuffPost, and UNFPA