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Field trip to Assella: Time to reap what we’ve sown!

The quest to insure safe motherhood in Ethiopia might seem like a herculean challenge but encouraging results from the field has fueled WAHA Ethiopia's ongoing efforts.

At the beginning of the week, we headed South-East to Assella where we witnessed firsthand the promising results of projects lead by WAHA on two different fronts to improve maternal health outcomes in Arsi Zone: strengthening midwives’ skills and reducing the burden of obstetric fistula.

A skills enhancement training program had been launched in November as part of WAHA’s comprehensive project to increase maternal health coverage in Arsi and this last week-end, there was a general air of festivity as the first group of midwives successfully completed the training. The 20 midwives, now more competent and more qualified, shared with us their eagerness to return to their communities and put in practice their newly-acquired skills.

A midwife, proudly displaying her certificate

We also went to the WAHA Fistula Center in Assella, to supervise the progress of the ongoing renovation works.

There, we met with a group of fistula patients who had all been treated and healed. Excitement was in the air as they were getting prepared to leave the Center and embark on a fistula-free journey. We heard laughter, we heard songs, we heard animated conversations about future plans: a farewell party was underway! Some had been waiting for this moment for months and others for years, but all thought this day would never come.

Our head-of-mission, Dr. Mulu Muleta, with a former fistula patient beaming with joy

Young and old, they all proudly wore the new dresses that had been given to them by WAHA as part of a reintegration package and they showed us the beautiful traditional handicrafts they had been making during their stay at the Center.

Former fistula patients have recreation activities in the center as they regain their strength before joining their communities again.

Though each of them is unique, you sense that they are bind by a feeling of togetherness; they've all traveled the same journey: the indescribable shame that comes with being incontinent, the hope of being healed, the wait, the doubts and then, finally, the joy of being healed.

When you know the trials and the tribulations they had to go through before reaching this point, you clearly see that WAHA’s Fistula Center is more than a place where free surgeries are provided: it's a safe haven where victims of fistula find protection from a cruel world, a place of restoration where they feel dignified, a retreat where they make peace with the past and learn to embrace their womanhood again.

Full of charm and playful, the women invited us to sing with them in celebration of their healing. Join us in celebrating this beautiful moment by watching the video below!

By the WAHA team in Ethiopia