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Uganda

WFF partners with TERREWODE, a local organization headquartered in Soroti, Uganda. Since 2010, WFF has provided up to 60% of their annual funding and helped TERREWODE grow from a regional to national organization. WFF is TERREWODE’s oldest supporter.

In 2017, TERREWODE began construction on the TERREWODE Women’s Community Hospital (TWCH) with funding partners Hamlin Fistula USA, International Fistula Alliance and TERREWODE Women’s Hospital Fund (formerly Uganda Fistula Fund for TERREWODE). To support this massive undertaking, in 2018 WFF awarded TERREWODE our largest grant ever: $675,000 over 5 years to help triple the number of women receiving holistic care from 200 women to 600 women per year. We are thankful that TERREWODE’s hospital partners have committed to ongoing operating funding. Opened in 2019, the hospital is the site for comprehensive childbirth injury prevention, advocacy, treatment and rehabilitation programs — all delivered under one roof!

Comprehensive Medical Treatment

photo courtesy Joni Kabana

Women receive holistic care at TWCH in Soroti, Uganda. Surgical access begins with pre-operative counseling that gives women the peace of mind that their fistula is treatable and, in most cases, curable. Women receive free transportation to surgery performed by trained fistula surgeons, nutritional meals and more during their hospital stay. They also receive post-operative counseling and recovery services as well as transportation home. We are helping TERREWODE develop their physical therapy program at the new hospital as well.

Rebuilding Lives through Social Reintegration

Women with fistula often become isolated from friends and family, unable or not invited to participate in community life. TERREWODE offers a wide range of Social Reintegration Programs because rejoining their community and rebuilding their lives requires economic empowerment programming. Reintegration programs have moved from the Women’s Economic Development and Empowerment Center to TWCH.

During a 2-week program, fistula survivors are provided accommodations and meals while they take educational and vocational classes to help lift them from poverty. They are empowered through educational classes about reproductive health, basic literacy and money management courses. This education is the basis upon which women build economic independence.

Women may then choose to learn income-generating vocational skills such as sewing, jewelry making, cooking and catering. Each trade allows them to return home and support themselves and their families.

photo courtesy Joni Kabana

Once home, survivors can join or establish Survivor Solidarity Groups and Community Solidarity Groups. Survivor groups give women the emotional support they can only get through others who have endured the same conditions. Solidarity groups have survivors and village members collaboratively raising poultry and goats, creating crafts for sale, renting land to farm vegetables and providing microloans to their members. Involving the entire community accelerates the rate at which survivors are accepted back into their communities and raises the entire village’s economic position.

Transforming Lives through Advocacy

Through our partnership, we provide Community Health Advocate Training to law enforcement officers, medical professionals, educators, community members and members of the media. With training, they join the Obstetric Fistula Awareness and Advocacy Network (OFAAN), a network of more than 1,000 trained outreach volunteers, who travel to communities to identify women with fistula and refer them for treatment. OFAAN training ensures not only wide dissemination of fistula treatment awareness but also prevention messages throughout the country.