Hope in the Hall

I was walking in the hall from the kitchen to D ward when I stopped abruptly and was overcome with emotion. There were about 10 Liberian women, patients on A ward, walking toward me singing "I have hope, I have hope, I have hope in Jesus." These are the women that are having VVF surgery.

VVF stands for vesico-vaginal fistula. During prolonged labor pressure from the head of a fetus can cause internal tissue to become necrotic (dead). A fistula develops between the bladder and vagina and causes a constant leak of urine. More severe fistulae may include the rectum and feces will leak as well.

Western medicine has eliminated this condition in the developed world. But in Africa, at least 2 million women are leaking.

They leak because girls are forced to marry before they have fully developed pelvic bones. They leak because their bodies are malnourished. They leak because maternal care is not accessible. Often, a woman will endure five to six days of unattended labor. Her efforts produce a dead baby and a solemn memorial. It is insane to me that 1 out of 16 children die instead of live during the birthing process in west Africa.

Last night as these women, with their catheter bags in their hands, walked down the Hall of the Africa Mercy Hospital singing with a smile on their faces "I have hope, I have hope, I have hope in Jesus", I was reminded that I have a lot to learn.