Tonight I watched a program on Nova called "A Walk to Beautiful". It was the story of Ethiopian women who, by the hundreds of thousands, suffer from Obstetric Fistula.
The story is literally heart wrenching.
Girls in villages all over Ethiopia begin working carrying water, cooking, cleaning, doing manual labor around the villages, at a very early age. Their diet is very low in Calories and because of a combination of the labor and their diet, these girls grow very small. The women in this documentary looked 12 years old, even though they were 18-20.
Many are married between 9-14 years of age and soon after become pregnant. Because of their small frames, they have serious, life threatening trouble giving birth. Where we in America and Europe would be rushed to the hospital for help, some women are in labor for up to 13 days. By the time they give birth, their child has died, and the contractions have worn a hole between their bladder and their pelvic bone, causing them to leak urine and/or feces constantly. This is a problem that affects the poor in small isolated villages with no medical care.
These girls... they are ostricised. They smell. They are forced to sleep away from their families and communities. They feel alone and as though they face a fate worth than death. All whom they interviewed had contemplated suicide.
This documentary covered a Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa, a 17 hour trip for one of the girls. Imagine riding in a bus for 17 hours, your clothes soaked in urine, you yourself keenly aware of your the stench.
This hospital saves the lives of these girls. They give them real beds, loving care, medical treatment, and hope. Over 90% of the girls are cured. And at the end of their month long stay, they receive the ultimate prize - new, clean clothes to wear home to their villages.
The greatest impact this documentary had on me, however, was how alike we all are.
These women from Ethiopia could not have had a more different life than I. Yet they showed such fear. Such bravery. Such desperation. They reacted as any human would react to the situation they were in. One wife, upon returning home, said to her husband, "Why didn't you clean the house? In the name of the Lord Jesus, what is wrong with you."
We are all one people. We all have the some blood, the same wants - to be happy. accepted. to have a purpose. We live in such a cruel world filled with war, poverty, and hate. If we could all just see that... if we could all just be nice to one another... the world would be a much better place.