Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Former FMF Interns Senior Civic Engagement Project...

I feel like I have been really neglectful in continuing my blogging with FMF. This is mostly because I have been working on my capstone civic engagement project all semester. Now that I have finished, I am in the process of writing my field guide and I wanted to share my experience here.

Basically I organized an event where three unfamiliar organizations; Tri-Iota, Alpha Delta Pi, and the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, worked together. These organizations donated jewelry; bracelets, anklets, necklaces, etc. Then I held a jewelry sale in our student center, all proceeds went to The Fistula Foundation.

I chose this foundation after I began to understand the international dilemma surrounding obstetric fistula. The World Health Organization estimates that there are over two million women suffering from fistula. Most often to occur after neglected child birth; fistula is a hole that forms between the vagina and the bladder.

To break down my project from beginning to end, it is important to firstly mention what sprouted my brain storming. This summer while interning in the D.C. FMF office, Alison Shigo of Engel Entertainment held a showing of their documentary, A Walk to Beautiful. The film follows the lives of five women in Ethiopia suffering from obstetric fistula.

This film touched me and I was immediately drawn to this global issue that is close to unheard of in the confines of our own country. There has not been an open fistula hospital in the United States since 1875, this fact amazed me. How can something that two million women are suffering from worldwide, not even be heard of in the U.S.A.? Before this film, I had never heard of fistula, I figured that many people at my university had not either. Therefore, my plan began with the idea of incorporating this film, The Fistula Foundation, and my campus.

In March at the National Young Women’s Leadership Conference, while brainstorming during a campus organizing round table I heard a suggestion that stuck with me. Collaborating an FMLA with a sorority, having the groups donate their jewelry, and selling it, so all proceeds go to a foundation of their choice.

This idea stuck with me, it not only raised money, but also enhanced campus involvement within sometimes unrelated groups, and would create dialogue about an issue. When I began solidifying my ideas for my capstone, I immediately referred back to my experience at the D.C. conference and got in contact with our Alpha Delta Pi sorority to collaborate with FMLA and Tri-Iota.

This is an issue running rampant in countries like Ethiopia, Uganda, the District Republic of the Congo, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Fistula is the result of many other issues like child marriage, poverty and rape. Women in the U.S. are virtually worry free of fistula, making the necessary procedures to share this courtesy with women internationally a must.

My goal for my project was to raise $200.00 and bring together organizations to raise awareness. I ended up raising $240.00 and creating various dialogues about obstetric fistula. Through using various forms of media, I organized this event that involved unfamiliar groups. Now, these three groups may use each other as alternative resources and continue to help their networks grow at ETSU. Not to mention, educating those who had no prior knowledge of obstetric fistula.


Maggie S said...

You definitely need to read "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide." One of the three sections in the book is dedicated to women's health crises and fistula's was, of course, one of them. A truly inspiring story and also a call to action. So nice to see other people getting involved in the movement and raising awareness! Keep up the awesome work

Laura said...

Look at you go!

Danielle said...

Keep up the great work Sarah!!! So glad to hear you're doing such powerful activism on campus :D

WendyM said...

That's awesome, Sarah! Good work.

Tania said...

Great work, Sarah! I'm thrilled to see that the video inspired such passion and creative activism! :)