Thursday, May 15, 2008

Goods 4 Girls

A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed." Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. Mark 5:24-29

The story of the woman with the hemorrhage has always touched my heart. First of all because I think that the woman was very gutsy. She dared touch a man, when her bleeding rendered her unclean, more than that, her 12 years of bleeding had turned her into an outcast. But she pressed through the crowd and touched Jesus who felt immediately that powered had gone out from him. When he starts asking, "Who touched me?" The woman must have been petrified. She was not supposed to be out in public, she was not supposed to touch anybody, much less a rabbi!

But Jesus kept asking. He wanted to know who had had such faith. He forced the woman to acknowledge her act. I think Jesus wanted to make sure that it was her faith which had cured her. Perhaps to give her back the dignity she had lost many years ago when she had been ostracized from society.

She was healed! But she was terrified. And even trembling, she fell at the feet of Jesus and told him the whole truth.

I wonder how many of us are afraid not of looking for healing but of actually being healed? How would our lives change?

Jesus then says: "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering."

Freed from suffering! Not only of the physical suffering, but also of the emotional and the social, I imagine the spiritual (since she couldn't attend religious services.) She was free! But now her life had to change.

Jesus know, of course who it was that touched him. But He wanted to make her stronger, to heal her publicly, to restore her dignity publicly.

In our days, these things are still happening. I keep on seeing these TV commercials where we're told that girls in Africa can't go to school because they do not have menstrual pads. These girls also suffer because it's a social and public humiliation. And there are many more women throughout the world who suffer like the woman in Jesus' time.

(The following is taken from

"In many areas of the world, access to adequate menstrual supplies is difficult to come by. Many women and girls rely on rags, newspaper, camel skin or nothing at all for their menstrual needs. A lack of sanitary pads can be a big barrier to a girl's education.

It may seem difficult to comprehend for many women who have easy access to a varied source of supplies, but we can all appreciate how difficult life would be without them. Imagine trying to go to school or work without protection. For many, it brings life to a halt.

Providing disposable supplies creates an additional burden on some communities where solid waste disposal consists of burning the garbage. Since many disposable feminine hygiene products contain plastic, incineration potentially creates an environmental and health hazard.
Goods 4 Girls was started to seek out donors to sew or purchase new, reusable menstrual pads for donations to areas of Africa where these products are needed most. Providing reusable supplies not only provides a more environmentally friendly alternative for these young women (in areas of adequate water supply for washing), it reduces their dependence on outside aid organizations to continue providing for their monthly needs.

It's easy to donate, even if you don't know how to sew. For more information about why you should donate, read the About Us page. For more information on what agencies we (they) are working with, please visit the News page."

So, I started sewing to contribute a little bit to give women some dignity. The other night I was watching a PBS program about Fistula Patients in Africa. Well, basically this women have a ruptured birth canal because of difficult births which leaves them unable to control their bladders. Often, in their small villages, they suffer humiliation and become outcasts. It is very prevalent, the most common estimate is that 100,000 women worldwide develop fistulas every year, though some estimates put the number closer to 500,000.

In Africa, after a difficult labor (in most cases the baby is stillborn), the woman is left with constant leaking of urine and, in extreme cases, feces, and she is often abandoned by her family and community because of the smell, which is sometimes linked to superstitious beliefs.

One girl, seventeen years old, said that she was in labor for a week and then finally the baby was yanked out of her and since the baby was born dead, her husband left her. She was no longer a woman. You can read some more about the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital and the Fistula Foundation.

It is incredible what one simple operation can do. It is incredible what a well made pad can do for a girl's dignity. And it is incredible what the waste of disposable pads can do to people's health (especially in Africa where they incinerate because of lack of landfills, exposing the community to the breathing of all those chemicals and toxic materials.)

In the United States we do not have that problem. I can not help but be so full of gratitude for all the privileges we have in this country. So, let us continue to pray for all the people that suffer around the world. Especially the victims in Myanmar and in China and here in the United States. And let us pray for all the women around the world who do not even have the dignity of protection for their periods. And if you can, please donate to either foundation so that they can also hear:
"Go in Peace and be freed from your suffering"


sarah gann said...

Aside from the obvious quick solution (the pads) we should also endeavor to get proper midwives out into the regions to help these women. There is no reason, in 2008, for a woman anywhere in the world to be forced to try and deliver her own child, or risk being "aided" by unsupervised, unskilled neighbors. Birth is a natural process--certainly not a disease--but the complications that can occur can ravage not only a woman's body but her dignity as well. We must pray for all women have access to hygenic, reliable, trained obstetrical care for labor and delivery as well as for routine gynecological needs. It is a human right for both mother and child.

Helga said...

Our Sisters are in Kenya and Tanzania, also in the bush, helping to educate and provide better care for the women there. They also teach them a trade and teach them hygene. They're also helping to provide better roads and water wells.

And yes, we need to pray for better obstetrical care. The thing is, to get them to trust in medical doctors. Let us continue to pray.