Healing Hands of Joy Grant

Empowers Africa is thrilled to announce a grant USD 10,000 to Healing Hands of Joy for support of women in Ethiopia who have suffered from obstetric fistula. Fistula is a terribly debilitating condition, both physically and emotionally. The funds will be used for income-generating skills training and to fund 40 micro-loans of USD 250 to Safe Motherhood Ambassador Program graduates. HHOJ and the Amhara Women’s Association will conduct the training at HHOJ’s Amhara Region Economic Empowerment Centre.
Women suffering from obstetric fistula experience long, painful labor pains followed by miscarriage. Sadly, women with fistula are often abandoned by their husbands and ostracized by their communities and families, forced into a life of solitude. Affecting over 3,500 women in rural Ethiopia, fistula is a disease which most are unaware of. With this lack of awareness comes an absence of resources available to affected women. Although these women can be treated for physical symptoms, there is insufficient treatment provided for the emotional, psychological, and economic ruins fistula inflicts. According to the The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), education, counseling, and life skills are necessary resources to the emotional recovery and financial self-sufficiency of affected women. However, after a needs assessment of fistula practitioners and patients in nine African countries was performed, these services were essentially absent.
Healing Hands of Joy was established to address this gap in treatment by enrolling former fistula patients in a two-week-long Safe Motherhood Ambassador rehabilitation and training program. As a Safe Motherhood Ambassador, a woman can return to her village and educate women on maternal health and help protect their futures. Furthermore, participating women are economically empowered by income-generating skills training and a micro-loan to start their own businesses. Healing Hands of Joy’s ultimate goal is “to see new cases of obstetric fistula radically reduced in Ethiopia within 5 years with the goal of eradication, and to see fistula survivors empowered to successfully reintegrate as self-sustainable contributors to their communities and educators in safe delivery.” The mission enacted make this vision a reality is three-fold: Prevention, Reintegration, and Identification. Firstly, HHOJ wants to eliminate fistula by increasing skilled, facility based delivery and the education of pregnant women. Secondly, it seeks to empower survivors to educate women in their own communities. Lastly, HHOJ plans to identify cases of fistula and refer patients to Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital for treatment before joining the ambassador program. To learn more about Healing Hands of Joy and their programs, please visit http://healinghandsofjoy.com