Thank you SO much for having me again this year! It was quite a special experience. Each time is different—full of growth, new insights, and more understanding of the complexity and nuances of these fistulas. I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to be part of something so well organized and thoughtful.
DR. BHUMY DAVÉ MD
My favorite moments at Kibagabaga Hospital (Rwanda) were in the clinic; interviewing and examining potential operative candidates infused a personal hope that we could help some of these women. Although the primary mission is to take care of the women, IOWD’s intention to foster education and develop a sustained medical force is a tremendous undertaking. What an extraordinary commitment to the future of this wonderful country!
MEGHANA GOWDA MD
It is hard to describe how much IOWD has done for the Rwandan women with fistula. I say this because as a medical student, one of my roles was to translate for the patients and the medical professionals during consultations. Sometimes it was truly difficult to translate the Kinyarwanda word that the women used when they wanted to say thank you. They said the IOWD team restored their "ubumuntu." There is no direct translation in English, but if there were, it would be "humanity". Their condition made these women pariahs of society so that they started hating themselves and began to feel like they were different. In Kinyarwanda, they were not "abantu" or human beings. But, the IOWD team restored that. Their humanity.
MIGUEL GASAKURE MD
Medical Resident, Rwanda
I keep having this image of a huge lake with small drops of water creating ripples, extending outward. Hopefully, all our efforts will lead to a long term solution to avoid the fistula problem in the first place.
CAROLYN DRAKE MD
One gets the impression that what one is doing is but a drop in the ocean of misery and resources could be better spent on prevention, education and more essential care. But in the meantime one realizes that there are human beings that are suffering emotionally and physically from lack thereof and need a helping hand today and now.
RENE GENADRY MD
What I learned and one of the things that is most meaningful to me about IOWD is that it is a family. The fistula surgeons guided me through the surgical intricacies of these challenging cases. I worked alongside my Rwandan colleagues clinically and they received and facilitated my introduction to their country. Barbara and Ira provided leadership and unwavering commitment to the providers, the mission and our patients. Most of all, I learned strength and the power of the human spirit from the women. As I now return year after year, I remain astounded by the joy and optimism many of our patients express despite having suffered some of the greatest atrocities imaginable.
BLAIR WASHINGTON MD
Caring for the fistula women of Niger was a fulfilling and life changing experience. I feel as if something inside of me was dormant, and now has been brought back to life and it is more awake than ever.....That mission of "serving others" that inspired me to become a physician has found a home.
ROBERTA BLANDON MD
The patients come from all over the country and even sometimes from neighboring countries. Most of these women are poor and ostracized by their communities. Almost all have nearly died in childbirth and (our patients) were the "fortunate" ones who survived. In exchange for their lives they give birth to stillborn children and are cursed with constant leakage of urine. Many women walk from the bush to the capital (either they are too poor to afford transportation or transportation is denied them because the women constantly reek of urine). Before IOWD's involvement in the fistula repair program the women would sometimes wait weeks to months to years even for surgery.
BEATRICE IM MD
Obstetrician & Gynecologist, USA
I cannot express how thankful I am to IOWD for the invaluable opportunity to travel with you to Niger. I have been forever changed, not only by the work that I got to do there, but also by interacting with the other team members and the Nigerien people. My outlook on life and the world has been richly enhanced. I have found my purpose. I look forward to working with you towards giving women with obstetric fistula a face and a voice.
NJOKI NG'ANG'A PhD
Registered Nurse, USA
It is a great pleasure to be with you all. I am proud and honored to be part of IOWD! I would like to thank you all for making this best global outreach trip I have ever participated in! It is an honor to work with such an incredible, talented and respectable team.
MONZER SADEK MD