Sara Forrest: Recovering Hope

Healing Hands of Joy

Healing Hands of Joy is a newly formed NGO which assists Ethiopian women who have suffered from childbirth injuries (mainly obstetric fistula) in reintegrating back into their communities. It was founded by Allison Shigo, who co-produced the Emmy award winning documentary on obstetric fistula (“A Walk to Beautiful”, 2007). The center opened its doors during my visit in November 2010. Most survivors of fistula have suffered major emotional and psychological stress. After prolonged labor and delivering a stillborn, most are divorced by their husbands and discriminated against by their villages because of their unappealing physical condition. Granted they know that help is available and are able to find the funding to travel to a hospital from their remote village, the road to recovery is still long and arduous. Returning back home after surgery is sometimes difficult. Most are poor, illiterate and have little way of providing for themselves. HHOJ is equipped to house up to six women at a time for the duration of the one month program. At the center they receive literacy classes, personal hygiene instruction, embroidery training and classes on microfinance, market skills, livestock maintenance and income generation.

Sara Forrest: Recovering Hope – Images by Sara Forrest

Sara Forrest

is a photographer based in N.Y.C. Her editorial and advertising work is primarily fitness, movement, and lifestyle based.
She is passionate about maternal health issues facing women in Africa, specifically obstetric fistula, and was thrilled to discover this SalaamGarage collaboration with Hamlin Fistula.
Most recently, she has worked with a series of farms across the nation on a personal project focused around community-based agriculture. She hopes that the Ethiopia trip will be one of many more based on women’s health.