Healing Hands of Joy was founded in 2010
Healing Hands of Joy works to eliminate obstetric fistula, a preventable childbirth injury that was eradicated in the United States in 1895 yet still afflicts 2-3 million women in developing countries and 37,000 women in Ethiopia where we work. In 2005 I was a filmmaker working in NYC and worked on the Emmy-award winning documentary “A Walk to Beautiful” that profiled women living with fistula in Ethiopia and their journey to be cured. I could not walk away from the pain and shame these women faced and in 2010 established HHOJ to prevent fistula and empower women who have suffered by training them as Safe Motherhood Ambassadors. We equip these women with education, counseling and economic support – providing access to micro-loans. To date, we have trained over 1,400 women recovering from fistula. These women have educated over 30,000 pregnant women resulting in 20,000 safe deliveries.
Last year, Healing Hands of Joy was invited to share at the United Nations during International Day to End Obstetric Fistula. It was an amazing opportunity for our Ambassador’s work to be recognized. For me personally, the most memorable moment has not been just one moment but meeting the women we work with and learning their stories, sharing in their suffering, healing and dancing with them at their graduation as Safe Motherhood Ambassadors.
ABOUT ALLISON SHIGO, Co-founder of Healing Hands of Joy
Allison Shigo (pictured above, right) received an Emmy Award for her work on A Walk to Beautiful, winner of the International Documentary Association award for Best Feature Documentary 2007. A Walk to Beautiful screened at over 25 film festivals worldwide, won several audience choice awards, and was theatrically released in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. For the DVD release of A Walk to Beautiful she created and co-produced Fistula Worldwide, Three Years Later. She created and led the film’s outreach campaign, working side-by-side with the world’s leading fistula related international organizations in an effort to raise awareness of the issue of obstetric fistula and galvanize change.
In 2009, Allison co-founded Healing Hands of Joy (HHOJ), a non-profit working in Ethiopia to empower former fistula patients and eliminate fistula. Working with a team of Ethiopian advisors she developed the innovative Safe Motherhood Ambassador Training program to provide reintegration and rehabilitation services to fistula survivors. The Ambassador program provides maternal health education, income-generating skills training, micro-loans, spiritual and
psychological counseling. To date over 1,400 fistula survivors have graduated as Safe Motherhood Ambassadors, serving as advocates for safe delivery in their communities to prevent fistula. It is the only fistula prevention and social reintegration program in Ethiopia. Healing Hands of Joy is a member of the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health’s Fistula Task Force. In partnership with USAID, Healing Hands of Joy has expanded nationwide in Ethiopia.
LEARN MORE at HEALINGHANDSOFJOY.ORG