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Director’s Notes

Mid-year Programming Update

June 15, 2022

Your significant support of our work has helped WFF accomplish much in 5 countries. Thank you for your ongoing commitment to preventing and treating childbirth injuries.

On March 26th, the WFF board approved additional 2022 funding to Burkina Faso for ARENA laboratory equipment to provide optimal patient assessments. Uganda received new funding to mentor and train nine (9) new 20-member Solidarity Groups for launching 180 women’s small businesses, group micro-loan activities and prevention advocacy.

If you were unable to join our May 19 event, you may still watch the recording. Our grantees share how they permanently utilize some COVID adaptations for increased organizational effectiveness and operational cost savings: virtual team meetings and virtual mentorship for Solidarity Group leaders as well as ramping up use of social media for outreach and prevention education.

In the first 5 months of 2022, WFF reached out to sister & collaborating organizations as well as humanitarian agencies to discuss pressing issues affecting us all. WFF has been unable to ship supplies or funds to Ethiopian partners in Tigray for a year and seeks solutions. Imports of Russian and Ukrainian grains, cooking oil and fertilizers to African countries have been disrupted. Droughts, flooding and the pandemic are also contributing to worldwide shortages and rising costs. WFF supporters also see cost increases in the US. We continue to monitor how these issues may impact our work and our ability to support partners.

Burkina Faso

In 2022, WFF will fund the following with Dr. Itengre’s ARENA: 100 women’s free fistula surgeries, 90 survivors’ reintegration training, 60 women supported in Solidarity Groups, 50 community leaders educated and 20 birth attendants/midwives trained at ARENA in fistula prevention, 2 local surgical teams trained in simple fistula repair, 150,000 community members reached with prevention/treatment awareness messaging. To date, Dr. Itengre & ARENA have:

  • Trained Ob-gyn/Urology residents in Bobo-Dioulasso teaching hospital during a fistula camp
  • Completed 27 first quarter surgeries at the teaching hospital and Larry Ebert Medical Center, indicative of backlog from pandemic restrictions
  • Opened June 3rd: ARENA Medical Center
  • Identified local medical teams for new medical training program in simple fistula repairs
  • On May 31st, University of Alabama at Birmingham awarded ARENA $20,000 for research comparing outcomes of holistic fistula care at AMC vs. care elsewhere


WFF will support the following in 2022 with Sarah Omega’s Let’s End Fistula Initiative: 420 women in 30 Solidarity Groups will run 64 Group & 560 Individual businesses, 8 Groups will become entirely self-funded by yearend, 9 new Young Champion Fistula Clubs wiill launch for fistula prevention work with adolescents & teens. To date:

  • Completed training for 21 Regional representatives supporting 30 Groups plus 35 teachers for the Young Champions Fistula Clubs
  • Transported 42 women to surgery and engaged a new funder


WFF supports the following at Danja Fistula Center (DFC) in 2022: 200 fistula surgeries, 100 women’s reintegration training, Dr. Porter’s FIGO expert fistula surgeon training. To date:

  • Dr. Porter, completed 4 weeks’ training at the Niamey’s National Fistula Center and received approval to begin performing fistula surgeries without a supervising surgeon
  • Completed 56 surgeries at DFC and 21 women’s reintegration training


Our support for Alice Emasu and Terrewode for 2022: Surgeries for 155 women, 290 women trained individually for small business enterprises, health education and knowing their marital rights and in Solidarity Group participation for microloan and microgrant activities. To date:

  • Completed 25 surgeries and 37 women’s reintegration training
  • Reached 5,000 community members with fistula treatments awareness and prevention messaging through patient mobilization radio spots in Bukedi sub-county
  • Obstetric fistula advocates trained to educate the community on treatment & prevention
  • Board member, Dr. Spitznagle now planning travel to consult on physical therapy program


WFF continues to provide remote support of the Urogynecology Fellowship training program based at Mekelle University-Ayder Comprehensive Specialist Hospital (MU-ACSH) in the Tigray region. Tigrayan banking and healthcare systems are crippled. Board member Dr. Nardos traveled to Addis Ababa in April. She discussed with the Ministry of Health options for WFF funds transfers to our partner, MU-ACSH, given the ongoing war and resulting humanitarian crisis.

The WFF board is considering some humanitarian support in addition to mission-focused Funding. We are vetting potential on-the-ground partners to facilitate both. Women are suffering traumatic fistulas from rape as an instrument of war as well as increased obstetric fistulas since most Tigrayan clinics have been destroyed or damaged. WFF is speaking with the Red Cross to add our container with $28,000 in Ob-Gyn medical supplies & equipment for

MU-ACSH to one of their supply convoys.

Your support makes our work possible.


Soja Orlowski signature

Soja Orlowski
Executive Director, Worldwide Fistula Fund

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