At the invitation from the Rwandan Minister of Health, IOWD began a fistula repair program in April 2010 in alignment with national maternal and child health goals. Maternal and child health remain priority areas for Rwanda. It has been a remarkable experience working in Rwanda and we are very grateful for the opportunity to partner with our colleagues at Kibagabaga District Hospital in Kigali, the capital city. Although Kibagabaga is our base, as our programs have expanded, we work with Rwandan counterparts at two other facilities in Kigali: Rwanda Military Hospital (Kanombe) and Muhima District Hospital. In this African country scarred by the 1994 genocide, which saw 800,000 people lose their lives, a new vision has arisen. There is hope and pride everywhere as remarkable strides have been taken to rebuild the nation. We are proud to partner with the Rwandan people on their development journey.
In October 2009, a team of IOWD surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses traveled to Hanoi, Vietnam to collaborate with our counterparts at the National Hospital for Obstetrics and Gynecology on a female pelvic floor reconstruction program for patients suffering from maternal birth trauma. Over a 2 week period, the IOWD and Vietnamese teams performed numerous surgeries; IOWD specialists conducted lectures, including live-streaming surgical technique; our director of nursing carried out a research study that has since been published; and both teams engaged in a vibrant cultural exchange. Although this was a one-time opportunity, we are proud of the global reach of our work.
Niger (2003 - 2009 )
IOWD was launched in 2003 to help a group of women with obstetric fistula living as lepers in a courtyard at the National Hospital in Niamey, the capital city of Niger. Our first mission took place in December that year. During the 6 years we spent in Niger, we accomplished numerous milestones. More than 1, 000 women and girls underwent surgery to repair their fistula; almost 3 million dollars worth of equipment, medicines and supplies were donated to the National Hospital and other local health facilities; our volunteers taught current best practices to local health practitioners, such as minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery and the World Health Organization Safe Surgery program; we introduced an educational outreach program targeting the women and conducted by a local midwife; taught vocational skills to repaired patients; began nursing and anesthesia programs at the National Hospital; created a music program to teach English at CES Rive Droite, a Niamey high school; donated over 1,000 English books to revitalize a the English Club at CES Rive Droite; started a drip irrigation garden, run solely by the CES Rive Driote students with supported from IOWD. We are proud of our relationship with the Government of Niger and were honored to be awarded with a Medal of Honor, the highest honor a foreigner can receive, by then President Mamadou Tandja.
Our last trip to Niger was in April 2009. Due to political instability following a coup d' etat and with the changing security landscape due to acts of terrorism in the region, prioritizing the safety and wellbeing of our volunteers was paramount. Therefore, it is with great sadness that IOWD ceased operations in Niger. We miss our colleagues, friends and patients dearly.