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home Publications Blog Program Updates From the Executive Director


Program Updates From the Executive Director

July 30, 2018

By Soja Orlowski

The number of countries we serve has nearly doubled in the last year. We’re reaching more women than ever before!

It’s an exciting time for us. As we work harder than ever to accomplish our mission to prevent and treat devastating childbirth injuries, I’m reminded that this isn’t just the success of a few.

Our community is made up of thousands. Thousands of like-minded individuals trying to make a difference in the lives of women and girls they’re unlikely ever to meet. That’s beautiful.

Celebrate your success. You’ve restored Oliver’s dignity. And Mariama’s. And Irene’s. And so many others.

Your continued support is transforming more lives. Take a look:

Burkina Faso

Dr. Itengré Ouédraogo is currently holding WFF’s second fistula surgical camp as we test a new facility: Larry Ebert Hospital. Patient recruitment and social reintegration services are provided by our partner, Fondation RAMA. We continue to develop our relationships with the Ministry of Health, universities and other potential partners as we formulate our 3-5 year plan for holistic services here.


In June, we completed our sixth annual Mekelle Medical Education Collaboration (MMEC), which brings US and International experts to the OB-GYN residency program. WFF Board Members and other invited experts delivered 3 days of lectures and curriculum to approximately 85 faculty, residents, medical students and guests from other institutions. WFF increases capacity to treat women locally in two key ways. First, we improve the skills of local medical professionals to proactively practice prevention as well as treat devastating childbirth injuries. Second, we help alleviate “brain drain,” which is when local doctors travel abroad seeking enhanced training not available locally and never return to their home countries.


Since March, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Carolyn Anderman to transition the collaborative relationship with Sarah Omega and Let’s End Fistula (LEF). Kathleen Davis leads our new Kenya Programming Committee. Sarah is strengthening relationships with Health Boards in the 8 counties where LEF operates as we begin the next phase in programming. We will next develop safe motherhood curriculum and train 28 Regional Representatives to deliver those prevention messages. Misti McDowell, Kenya committee member, leads analysis of our 2017-2018 pilot year data to measure our success with Survivor Solidarity Groups.


Using visiting surgeons (most previously trained by WFF), we provided 93 women free fistula surgeries at Danja Fistula Center with our partner, SIM. Our holistic service model includes ongoing counseling, physical therapy and social reintegration programs. A strong candidate has emerged to potentially replace Dr. Itengré (who is now in Burkina Faso) as Chief Medical Officer. Fingers crossed!


TERREWODE Women’s Hospital is under construction. WFF’s $135,000 annual grant funds surgeries, reintegration, health advocate training, fistula prevention/awareness, staffing and more. Our combined organization approved an additional $40,000 this year to support fistula surgeries for women on TERREWODE’s waiting list. For the last 3 years, OBO and WFF were the only continuous funders (WFF since 2010). Hamlin’s International Fistula Alliance funds hospital construction and new medical staffing.

Congratulations on your success.

With gratitude,

Soja Orlowski
Executive Director
Worldwide Fistula Fund