The dress ceremony at the Danja Fistula Center was held on August 16th. It was a joyous conclusion to two weeks of surgery and recovery. The women were given beautiful new dresses, which symbolize their new life and the end of their long and often discouraging journey with obstetric fistula.
The ceremony was held in the ward. The women paraded in and sang, clapped and danced around the audience, which consisted of their family members and all the doctors, nurses and local staff who made this happy occasion possible.
A couple of the patients shared their stories with fistula. Dr. Arrowsmith, Dr. Intengré (our new doctor who will be starting full-time when the clinic opens for year-round services), and some of the nurses also spoke, saying how delightful the patients were to work with. One of the nurses said to the women, “I hope you feel beautiful today.” The women broke into big smiles and cheered, clearly responding with a “Yes!” Then the women sang and danced to a traditional Hausa song of praise and thanks, in honor of the medical team and local staff.
Finally, after pictures and lots of hugs, it was time for the women to leave. We are optimistic that they will return and be accepted into their villages and families and that they will be able to continue with the life they once knew, with good health and renewed hope.
The women were truly a joy to work with, and the whole medical team was touched and inspired by their gentle kindness and strong spirit. We will miss them, but we look forward to 2012 when we can meet and treat more of these women.