Sue Hope - Freedom from Fistula A Good News Story Thursday August 6 @ 18.45 for 19.00

Thu 6th August 2020 at 6.45 pm - 7.55 pm

Sue Hope - Freedom from Fistula A Good News Story Thursday August 6 @ 18.45 for 19.00

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Sue Hope - Freedom from Fistula A Good News Story  Thursday August 6 @ 18.45 for 19.00


President David Chisholm welcomed Sue Hope to a Zoom meeting of the Club. Sue explained that she has been working in the charity sector for some 30 years.  She spoke particularly movingly about her work with the Freedom From Fistula project ( which provides help for women and girls in Africa who are injured in childbirth and left suffering from obstetric fistula – a condition that leaves them incontinent, abandoned by their families, and condemned to a life of shame, isolation and despair.  Sue explained that the absence of professional care in many parts of Africa for women in pregnancy gave credibility to the saying:  “To be pregnant is to have one foot in the grave”.  In Malawi, for example, there is only one doctor for 23,000 patients; in Sierra Leone the figure is one per 15,000. This compares with Scotland where a doctor typically has fewer than 300 patients.

Sue explained that Dame Ann Gloag DBE, a former nurse and co-founder of the Stagecoach transport company, founded Freedom From Fistula in 2008. It operates in Sierra Leone, Malawi and Madagascar and provides free surgeries to heal fistula; offers free and accessible maternity care; funds children’s outpatient clinics; and gives training for nurses, midwives and doctors.  Since 2008, the charity has supported more than 170,000 women and children. 

Sue’s role for many years with the project has predominantly been looking after the interaction with Rotary Clubs across Scotland and beyond who offer much invaluable support to the charity.  She expressed thanks for the initiative by the Bridge of Allan and Dunblane Club in obtaining a Rotary Global Grant to fund the further professional training of a Malawian midwife at the University of Stirling, who was then able to pass on her expertise to nurses and midwives in Malawi. Other Rotary Clubs across the world have also given invaluable support, for example securing funding for the purchase of two Landcruisers in Malawi that provide a lifeline for the team there to access patients in the most rural areas.

The support of Rotary involvement with Freedom From Fistula’s biggest project, the Aberdeen Women’s Centre in Sierra Leone, is a perfect fit for Rotary’s Maternal and Child Health Area of Focus.  Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centre has managed to continue to offer medical support for the community.  In addition, it also provides important educational opportunities including basic literacy and numeracy, health education and training, and family planning.

President David thanked Sue for giving members an insight into the circumstances endured by many women in Africa.  He was pleased that the Club had been able to give support to help improve these women’s prospects.  He wished Sue and the project well in their work.