Thursday, March 10, 2011

Childbirth Injuries and Midwifery: Speaking From the Heart

Doctors Catherine and Reginald Hamlin
during their early days in Ethiopia.
By: Abel Tadesse
March 10, 2011

March 8th is celebrated as International Women’s Day. Most of us celebrate the women in our lives daily. Whether it is calling our mothers to say thank you or expressing the love we have for our sisters, we all have different forms to show our appreciation to the women in our lives. As we celebrated and recognized women’s day, for many mothers in developed countries, pregnancy is the most exciting time as they look forward to growing life within their body and then bringing it to the world.

This is not the case in many developing countries like Ethiopia especially in rural areas where a mother-to-be can experience an agonizing weeklong labor all by herself. I recently watched a trailer for a documentary called A Walk to Beautiful where a woman expressed how her pregnancy, which led to a weeklong labor, ruined her marriage as it resulted in a childbirth injury called obstetric fistula. The husband noticed her condition, which includes loosing functions of the bladder, so he decided to leave her to marry another woman. It was unbearable to watch the complete trailer, and note this is not even the whole documentary! I kept on telling myself that these are the mothers and sisters of my own in Ethiopia. What was even worse about seeing the horrors of obstetric fistula is that this childbirth injury was eradicated from the U.S. in 1895.

EGI President Samuel M. Gebru (in suit) poses with Dr.
Catherine Hamlin (right) in August 2006 at the Addis
Ababa Fistula Hospital.
For me, understanding the condition of fistula really is an eye opener and I believe individuals like you and I can take actions together to eradicate this traumatic childbirth injury in Ethiopia as well as other developing countries. Using our own skills, we can make pregnancy and childbirth "a joyful experience" as Dr. Catherine Hamlin, founder of the Hamlin Fistula Hospitals of Ethiopia, defined it. For me, my action first started when I joined the Ethiopian Global Initiative, fully supporting the Midwives Scholarship Fund. The mission of the project is to improve access to healthcare education, specifically midwifery as it is found to be a sustainable solution to improve the areas of maternal and child health. The success of this program will help build the foundation stronger, and further increase the amount of Ethiopia’s healthcare professionals. The project is raising funds to sponsor eight women at the Hamlin College of Midwives in Ethiopia.

It may be difficult for one to fully commit to volunteering as we all have our own personal endeavors, but I am a strong believer that the smallest contribution counts for the success of the EGI Midwives Scholarship Fund. In the long run, the eradication of obstetric fistula, turning a woman's worst experience during childbirth to a joyful celebration, is a goal for us when each International Women’s Day comes by.

Just as I have joined, helping expand the Ethiopian Global Initiative’s mission in expanding education for health, I invite you and your friends to do so.

Visit the EGI Midwives Scholarship Fund webpage by clicking here. Abel Tadesse holds a Master in Health Sciences degree from George Mason University and is Project Manager of the EGI Midwives Scholarship Fund. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

EGI President Speaks at Black History Month Dinner in Washington, D.C.

EGI President Samuel Gebru delivers
speech on "The Promise of Ethiopia:
Unity Beyond Borders." Photo Credit.

Washington, D.C., March 3, 2011 – On Monday, February 28, 2011 Ethiopian Global Initiative President Samuel M. Gebru delivered a speech entitled “The Promise of Ethiopia: Unity Beyond Borders” at the annual African Heritage and Unity Celebration.

The event, organized by Tamrat Medhin of the Ethiopian American Constituency Foundation, was held at Etete Restaurant, a prominent Ethiopian restaurant in Washington, D.C.’s historic Shaw Neighborhood.

In his speech, Samuel explained why Ethiopia is important to African Americans. “Ethiopia to African Americans was and still is an institution; it’s an identity, much beyond just a state with clearly defined borders. During the Scramble for Africa, Ethiopia was the torch barrier of African unity and self-determination. Ethiopia was a home for all oppressed people of African descent, a place where they would find unity in diversity.”

He continued, articulating how the first Ethiopian delegation to the United States in 1919 spoke out against racial segregation and left a standing invitation to all African Americans to repatriate to Ethiopia. Samuel emphasized the notion of “Ethiopia Without Borders” and its meaning.

“‘Ethiopia Without Borders’ is a concept that African Americans have cherished…One of the Black regiments in the U.S. Revolutionary War was known as Allen’s Ethiopians…Homer in The Odyssey referenced to all the lands south of Egypt as being Ethiopia. This is from a document written around the 8th Century B.C.”

Youth involvement as the primary vehicle to continue the historic 200 years of relations between African Americans and Ethiopians was underscored. Samuel explained that, “Celebrating the heritage of all African people, both within the homeland and abroad, must be a matter of a realization of our own individual and collective potential as a people who have been historically, political and economically marginalized. This is what Black History Month should be about today, not just for 28 days but also for 365 days.”

Three other speakers shared insight on Ethiopia’s importance to the Black world. H.I.H. Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie, President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, spoke the contributions Ethiopia made to African self-determination. Retired Washington, D.C. City Councillor Frank Smith spoke about the economy behind enslavement and the interconnectedness of the American Civil War and the African struggle for independence. Lastly, retired Captain Getachew Wolde Mariam, spoke on his experience in the Imperial Bodyguard of Ethiopia and the contributions Ethiopia has made to global peacekeeping, including in the Congo and South Korea.

The African Heritage and Unity Celebration in Washington, D.C. was an important way for the Ethiopian Global Initiative to continue its outreach work. Some Ethiopian-Israeli youth attending the event, representing Israel at Heart, expressed their desire to begin EGI activities in Israel.

The Chairman of the Washington, D.C. City Council, the Honorable Kwame Brown, attended the event and commended Samuel Gebru’s speech. He expressed his interest in learning more about EGI and exploring ways that the District of Columbia could support and partner with it.

Representatives of many other organizations and businesses also attended the event. Organizer Tamrat Medhin hailed the speakers as having eloquently pointed out the importance of the past and how to chart a new future.

A copy of “The Promise of Ethiopia: Unity Beyond Borders” is available on the EGI website.

About the Ethiopian Global Initiative
The Ethiopian Global Initiative is an international nonprofit organization that combines and captures the social and intellectual capital of students and professionals for the transformation of Ethiopia through a new generation of socially responsible leaders. Working throughout the world, the Initiative serves as a catalyst for community-based projects to promote civic engagement and economic prosperity.

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

City Councillor Nate Holden supports the Ethiopian Global Initiative

See related press release here. Check out photos from the EGI Los Angeles Networking Mixer here.

EGI's President works with Maryland Ethiopians

Meeting with some members of the Montgomery County
Ethiopian Sister City Committee at Abyssinian
Ethiopian Restaurant. Photo Source: click here.
This past weekend, our President was in Washington, D.C. One of the things he did was meet with representatives of the Montgomery County Ethiopian Sister City Committee. The meeting took place at Abyssinia Ethiopian Restaurant in Silver Spring, Maryland. Check out Samuel's thoughts on the meeting here.

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© 2010 Ethiopian Global Initiative, Inc. Material may be republished with credit to this blog and/or the original author. The views and comments expressed in this blog are not necessarily those of the Ethiopian Global Initiative, Inc.