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Director’s Notes

Program Re-opening Is Beginning

September 24, 2020

Thank You.

Because of supporters like you, I’m happy to report grantees in Burkina Faso, Kenya and Ethiopia are able to resume additional services this month to vulnerable women with childbirth injuries!

How does WFF support responsible re-opening?

Our Board established a Post-Crisis Re-opening Committee. As restrictions are lifted and grantees determine they are ready to begin re-opening, WFF supports local leaders in gathering critical information to assess their unique situations and to implement the best way forward:
  1. What is the current status of COVID infection in the country?
  2. How does this status impact programming components?
  3. What work can continue/how during country’s COVID shutdown?
  4. What is strategy for re-starting all program components as country re-opens?
  5. What is estimated timeline for re-opening?
  6. What steps can be taken to minimize risk of COVID transmission to patients/partners?
  7. What funding is needed at this time?

How have services on the ground changed?

Burkina Faso

Women on ARENA’s waiting list have been very patient! With WFF re-opening funds, Dr. Itengre will provide holistic care to 15 women: surgeries + reintegration training. Reintegration programming will focus on teaching women how to knit and produce soap for both personal use and to generate income as it is a product currently in high demand. Masks will be provided to the women and additional education will be provided in maternal health, hygiene and COVID-19 prevention best practices. Dr. Itengre is quickly getting underway at Larry Ebert Medical Center to complete services for these 15 women before malaria season begins to fill hospital capacity and he has secured PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).


Sarah’s team had been focused on remote support of Solidarity groups broken into much smaller meeting groups according to government guidelines. WFF re-opening funds will support travel for 200 survivors to resume larger group meetings for mutual support in growing individual Income generating activities (IGAs). In recent months, women have depleted their individual savings and public transportation under new government guidelines has become unaffordable. To safeguard the largest Solidarity groups’ accumulated Ksh 100,000+ ($900+) incomes through their group IGAs, WFF re-opening funds will support travel for the leadership team and a financial services expert to provide enhanced financial education and facilitate transfer of group savings into local Community Savings Organizations. Through Community Savings Organizations, Solidarity groups will earn interest and increase their ability to loan money that assists additional community members in achieving income security through IGAs.


Together with our partners, Ayder Hospital/Mekelle University, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, Maternal Health Fund and Footsteps to Healing, we’ll support resuming in-person Urogynecology Fellowship training. WFF re-opening funds will help support Fellows’ travel for three 2-week training sessions at Mekelle Hamlin Fistula Center, Ayder Hospital and additional locations. Fellows will receive hands on training/education in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery while treating 40-50 patients per session. There is adequate PPE available and a system for labeling each individual’s equipment to protect all Fellows, medical personnel at the training sites and patients. Training will be led by local Fellowship graduates: Dr. Melaku (2020 Fellowship Director), Dr. Fekade, Dr. Bitew and Dr. Yeshina.

In Uganda, we continue our sustaining operations support as Alice begins to re-open Terrewode Women’s Community Hospital for fistula surgeries. In Niger, WFF continues to support our partner SIM and colleagues at Danja Fistula Center. Niger’s pandemic challenges have been exacerbated by flooding and increased terrorist activity. We will conduct ongoing monitoring of the local situation at all five WFF partner sites and support grantees in adjusting programming as needed and provide updates.

The survival of our grantees and the re-opening of their programs would NOT be possible without funding from key supporters like you. We are grateful for everyone’s generosity and response to our appeal for early annual gifts.Thank You!

Wishing you and your family continued good health.


Soja Orlowski

Soja Orlowski
Executive Director

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