On October 27th the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, CA opened their exhibit, Women Hold Up Half the Sky, inspired by the book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression in Opportunity for Women Worldwide written by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. The exhibit, which features photographs, visual arts, and interactive opportunities for participants addresses the extreme challenges facing women and girls around the world today and the incredible potential women possess. The Skirball Center stated, “Confronting the malign persistence of sex trafficking, gender-based violence, and maternal mortality, the exhibition tells stories of women from around the globe who have changed their lives through education, economics, and self-determination.”
Our own surgeon, Mamite Geshe, is highlighted in the exhibit. Mamitu came to the Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa in 1962 because her labor had gone horribly wrong. Mamitu came from a remote Ethiopian village, Shoa, and was married at the age of 14. At the age of 16, she became pregnant and after four days of labor she eventually had a stillborn baby. Her bladder, rectum and birth canal had all been damaged from the agonizing days in labor. After several operations that cured her in some of her injuries she was still left incontinent. The founders of the hospital, Dr. Reginald and Catherine Hamlin, saw great potential in Mamitu and took her on as a nurse aide. She began changing bed linens and started helping out during surgeries. Mamitu was a natural leader and soon started routinely performing the entire fistula repair surgery herself. Now Mamitu is one of the world’s most experienced fistula surgeons and regularly trains other doctors around the world in fistula repair surgery.
At the opening of the exhibit, Nicholas Kristof said, “Women and girls aren’t the problem they are the solution.” Mamitu is an example of the enormous potential women hold when given the opportunities. Stories of courage, determination and hope from women around the globe are throughout this inspiring exhibit and we at Hamlin Fistula are honored to be part of it.
For more on the exhibit: www.skirball.org/exhibitions/half-the-sky