This week, Mercy Ships will begin fistula repair surgeries on board the Africa Mercy in Madagascar. VVF, or vesico-vaginal fistula and ensuing complications, are the cause of the daily humiliation, rejection, and abandonment experienced by more than two million women in the developing world. Most commonly, VVF follows violent rape or complications from prolonged childbirth. Jackie writes to us this week:
“Some women are too young to birth children or they may have an extremely long, difficult labor which many times ends in stillbirth. They not only lose their baby, but are left with multiple female issues. The largest problem is a continually leaking bladder which makes it impossible to lead a normal life. They have an unpleasant odor and are almost always shunned by family and isolated from their communities.”
Fistula repair surgeries are offered free of charge by Mercy Ships onboard the Africa Mercy. The surgeries are complicated, and some women may require multiple surgeries before they begin the long process of recovery at the Hope Center, a facility about one mile from the ship.
As they enter the ship the day before surgery, the women wear white gowns, “walking into the unknown and hoping for a better life,” says Jackie. When they have recovered they are given beautiful new dresses as part of the Dress Celebration. The Africa Mercy staff help them to dress, put on makeup, and tell their stories as the women sing and dance in a celebration of their new lives.
Please pray for the women of Madagascar who will be receiving fistula treatment on Africa Mercy this week and in the weeks to come. Also pray that Jackie would be matched with just the right woman in a “Befriend a Patient” program on board. She has requested to be paired with a VVF woman and we look forward to hearing more good news from her soon!