The main accident was that Rebekah (Becky) Kiser was traveling in Ethiopia in 2003 and she thought that she was healthy enough that she didn’t need to take a typhoid shot. This big error in judgment almost cost her life and it ended up changing the course of life for many.
During her sickness her tour guide took her to the small clinic in the town of Bahir Dar, the source of the Blue Nile river. A few months later she was traveling to Africa for another purpose but she stopped in Ethiopia to express her gratitude to the tour guide and his family. At that time she helped his sister who had a condition called fistula. His sister needed someone to take her to the hospital for treatment. Becky had never heard of fistula and thought it must be an Amharic (the main language in Ethiopia) word. She tried to look it up in different translation dictionaries with no success. When she arrived to help she discovered that there are many women around the world that have not only lost their babies, and their husbands, and their social position, but they have also lost their hope for the future and they think even God left them. They all suffered from obstetric fistula, a hole in the bladder and/or rectum causing them to leak waste for the rest of their lives unless they are one of the lucky ones that can be fixed with surgery.
Becky knew she had to help on some small scale. At that time she worked as an independent sales director with Mary Kay Cosmetics. Her small team and some friends decided they had to do something and sent Becky back to Ethiopia. The original goal was to help five woman and then go back to her normal life. The program was first started to shelter women who were waiting for their fistula surgery but Becky soon realized that the problems of fistula are so very much deeper and that rehabilitation was what is needed for these women to ever begin a new life.
Every woman is a tragedy. Becky now realizes that prevention has to be the main focus. Even if the woman can be cured, even if she can be taught to read and write and a way to empowerment by having her own income, she has still suffered a tragedy no human should ever have to endure. Especially since we know fistula is a preventable problem. It’s been virtually eradicated in the United States for more than 100 years.
The Ethiopian Government legislated and enforced a law against early marriage (the legal age is now 18). This has resulted in a great drop of new fistula cases but it has left those girls who were planning to get married with a whole new future. Becky is still passionate that “prevention really is better than a cure” The crisis has moved from housing women with fistula to how to keep them from developing fistula in the first place. The most effective way is keeping girls in school and giving their little bodies and minds a chance to mature. Providing a means for these girls to stay in school is now the focus of Trampled Rose.
By providing each Trampled Rose girl with $25 per month, we empower them to buy school supplies, text books, menstrual care, shelter, or food to keep them successful in the classroom. The girls that are supported are the ones most needing assistance in their rural Ethiopian communities.