Sent October 10, 2014: Experiences in Ethiopia
But what about my intention for this travel – to amplify the impact of feminine energy and women’s leadership? For me, it always comes back to sharing stories of what women ARE doing, how they are contributing to their families and communities. Three experiences are worthwhile to share.
About ten of us gathered in a training room at the Institute where Weub works. She selected the room – because she could set the chairs in a circle. I selected the focus point – the beautiful replica of “the rug” that Tam made for the Summit
Much of teaching, I believe, is demonstrating our vision through symbol and modeling. Most of the women were young. All of them had “big” questions: Tell us about a challenge you faced and how you dealt with it. How can women make an impact when they are one of two in a management team of 12 – all the others men? Talk to us about balancing family and work.
Our conversation focused on Competence, Confidence, and Courage ~ Leading with Our Strengths. The obvious surfaced again: Women around the globe, at various economic levels and various professional levels and roles – experience similar issues, AND, demonstrate the Competence,Confidence and Courage to contribute their talents!
Weub also arranged for me to meet with Fozia Hussein. For those of you familiar with the Developing Women’s Leadership Capacity Building Guide, you will recognize her. (www.developingwomensleadership.com) She participated in one of Weub’s Conversations and commented that she had dropped out of school to raise her four sisters. Her story about how she rescued a sister who was kidnapped will be featured as the Story of the Month on my web site (www.womenleadingtheway.com) as soon as I can make the time to complete it and have Fozia review it.
The final experience related to women’s leadership was the wonderful opportunity to meet Dr. Catheriine Hamlin, co-founder of the Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Addis. Recognized by the United Nations agency, UNFPA, for her development of surgical techniques and procedures, she and her husband founded this hospital where more than 34,000 women have been treated for obstetric fistula. I have seen pictures of her in the operating room at age 89. She is now 90, a most gracious woman – the glint of steel peeks through, however.
The hospital is amazing! ! Clean, and welcoming. The grounds are beautiful, filled with flowers and bushes of all kinds. Stepping inside from the hustle and bustle of the city with its accompanying dust and noise – - is like being transported to a quiet resort. Even more important, however, is the wholistic and appreciative treatment of the women who come there.
Women needing only simple procedures are placed in wards where they will spend a month to six weeks, receiving not only physical treatment, but also psychological and spiritual counseling. As the Chaplain said – “They have lost everything – their baby (usually), their husband, and their mother and father have usually rejected them.”
Women with more complex needs may be with them for several months. As they heal they are taught handicrafts and have education classes. For this group, as well as the other two, integration assistance is provided. Sometimes, with proper assistance, the family will accept the daughter back.
If a woman’s organs and tissue is so badly damaged that she really can’t go back to her village – many have to wear colostomy bags for the rest of their lives – she may be trained as a nurses’ aide and work at this hospital! ! ! Or she may be assisted to set up a small shop to support herself.
Goodbye for now, treasured friends. We leave soon for Uganda.