Hope for Our Sisters, Inc. was born out of a profound and life-changing reaction to two powerful books. I read The Hole in Our Gospel, by Richard Stearns, during the fall of 2009, and Half the Sky, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, during the summer of 2010. God used these challenging books to burst open the protective “bubble of safety” in which I lived, help me see the world beyond my immediate vision, and allow my heart to break due to the devastating and worldwide oppression of women and girls. While God was doing this painful work in me, I also saw the hope God has placed in the hearts of women and girls and as I learned of their resilience when given the chance to heal, speak, grow, fight back, learn, and contribute. God had invited me to do something for my sisters in need and, gratefully, I said yes.
Part of that invitation was to raise awareness around the crisis of fistula and organize a group of women who were similarly called to give of themselves to serve as an effective voice for women and girls suffering under the weight of this hope-destroying condition. Along with the invaluable support of my husband and wise mentors along the way, God blessed this endeavor with the addition of Mimi Johnson, Debra Angeloni, Judy Long, and Helen Stefan, each bringing her own passion and unique talents to the team.
Our path led us to the Fistula Foundation, a top-ranked non-profit organization dedicated to working with local doctors to fund obstetric fistula surgeries, train surgeons, build hospitals and support “mobile” care clinics where no hospitals exist in rural regions of the world. Through God’s provision, our initial efforts led to the funding of our first 10 fistula surgeries by April of 2011. When seeking a new goal for our organization, two of our young children independently challenged us to raise enough for 100 surgeries. We wanted a goal that would require God’s power…we believed 100 was that goal and pledged to the Fistula Foundation to support a total of 100 fistula surgeries. We reached this goal by the end of 2012.
In January 2012, God opened doors that enabled Mimi Johnson and me to establish ourselves as Hope for Our Sisters, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a mission to raise greater awareness and support for these deserving women and girls in the years to come. Now the team not only hopes to provide funds for much-needed surgeries, but to also find ways to support preventative efforts as our final desire is the worldwide eradication of fistula.
Our mission is two-fold. The first is to raise awareness of and support for women suffering from fistula, as we seek God’s renewal of hope in each woman’s heart through effective treatment, prevention and ultimate eradication of this devastating condition. The second is to encourage and mobilize women to follow God’s calling on their lives as they are invited to give of their time, talents and treasures.
With millions of women living with fistula worldwide, an estimated 50,000 – 100,000 new fistulas each year, and the current world capacity for providing treatment limited to 6,500 surgeries per year, the numbers can seem staggering and the issues can seem countless. You may feel unable to make a difference. However, remember, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” [Matthew 19:26] I believe that if you ask God and are willing to follow Him, God will show you your path and He will encourage you along the way. You just need to be open to seeing and receiving it.
May we all use our voices to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. May we allow God to burst any bubbles we may have constructed and to replace our safe, comfortable, or even hardened hearts with hearts of flesh; hearts that will not sit by letting injustice reign, but hearts that will drive us to serve Him by serving our brothers and sisters in need. May God’s justice, truth, and hope reign here and now because each of us is willing to step out in faith along a new path, putting others’ lives before our own comfort, and live out what we believe.
We hope you will walk this path with us.
Brooke F. Sulahian
President and Co-Founder
Hope for Our Sisters, Inc.