At the Effective Altruism conference in Sydney last year I had a conversation with a new friend about our ‘favourite effective charities’. Her favourite was the Fistula Foundation. Her reason was because for a set amount of money you could be 100 per cent confident you could restore quality of life to a woman who would otherwise suffer enormously and endlessly.

Honestly, I have to admit that although I’d vaguely heard of the Fistula Foundation, I didn’t really know what they did. I nodded along politely as my new friend talked about the great work they do and went home and googled them.

Turns out the Fistula Foundation provides treatment for ‘obstetric fistula’ – a childbirth injury that can destroy a woman’s life. An obstetric fistula occurs when a mother has a prolonged obstructed labour, but doesn’t have access to emergency medical care, such as a c-section. She often labours in excruciating pain for days.

Tragically her baby usually dies.

But it gets worse…

During the prolonged labour, the mother’s contractions continually push the baby’s head against her pelvis. Soft tissues caught between the baby’s head and her pelvic bone become compressed, restricting the normal flow of blood.

Without adequate blood supply, sections of tissue soon die, leaving holes – known as ‘fistulae’ – between the mother’s vagina and her bladder or rectum. It’s these holes that cause incontinence.

If untreated, the woman will uncontrollably leak urine, stool, or sometimes both, for the rest of her life.

Obstetric fistula leaves women incontinent, humiliated and often shunned by their community.

Surgery is the only cure.

And that’s where the Fistula Foundation come in. In their own words – they do one thing, and they do it well – they treat obstetric fistula. Few investments in human health have been proven to yield such a dramatic impact on a woman, her family and her community.

Today, right now, at least one million women in Africa and Asia are needlessly suffering from untreated fistula. They are generally voiceless – young, female, poor, rural and ostracised.

Especially as a woman, especially as a mother, it is enough to make you cry.

So when we were looking for an effective charity to donate our March to May Write the World notebook sales to – especially our new Fearless Girls notebook, designed to coincide with International Women’s Day on 8 March – we couldn’t think of a better effective charity to support.

Fearless Girls: dignity, respect and justice for all – silence is not an option

Purchase online in our Write the World notebook store now – every $10 notebook purchase = $10 to Fistula Foundation from March to May 2020.

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