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Clinic In Niger Helping To Heal Physical, Mental Scars Left By Obstetric Fistula

In opinion pieces published on Saturday in the New York Times, columnist Nick Kristof and Erin Luhmann, the winner of Kristof’s annual “Win-A-Trip” contest, discuss obstetric fistula and the experience of Hadiza Soulaye, who received treatment for the condition at the Danja Fistula Center in Danja, Niger. In his column, Kristof writes, “There is nothing more wrenching than to see a teenage girl shamed by a fistula, and I’ve written before about the dreams of a couple of surgeons to build this fistula center here in Danja. Times readers responded by contributing more than $500,000 to the Worldwide Fistula Fund to make the hospital a reality. Last year, the Danja Fistula Center opened” (7/13). Luhmann, writing in the “On the Ground” blog, says, “Hadiza has found a new sense of community with obstetric fistula patients who harbor similar stories of spousal abuse, abandonment, and humiliation. While the morale was high, I noticed that many of the girls we spoke with still attributed their obstetric fistulas to ‘destiny’ or ‘divine intervention.’ I hope they will one day understand that they did nothing wrong. The true culprits — poverty and female disenfranchisement — are much more tangible” (7/13).