Hamida is a young woman of 25 from a small town in the southernmost point of mainland Bangladesh, at the Myanmar border. She was married at a young age, became pregnant and gave birth at home, as more than 95 percent of women do in her region for fear of hospital costs. Most women in her region never see a doctor once during their entire pregnancy.
During the delivery, Hamida's labor became obstructed and caused her to endure three days of excruciating pain. The remote location of her town made emergency obstetric intervention impossible. Hamida's baby did not survive.
Afterward, Hamida found that she could not control her urine; her difficult labor had left her with the childbirth injury of obstetric fistula, an injury caused by prolonged obstructed labor. Fistula is preventable when a woman has access to emergency medical intervention, such as a C-section, and curable only through a fistula repair surgery that costs as little as $450.
Her husband divorced her because he could not stand her continuous odor. She returned to her parents' home to live, but she felt isolated and miserable: she was supposed to have had a life of her own.
She lived with fistula for several years before learning about Hope Hospital, where, last year, Hamida finally received a successful fistula repair surgery that forever changed her life. No longer incontinent, Hamida's life is now filled with hope and opportunity, free from the stigma and shame of her obstetric fistula.
My organization, The Fistula Foundation, works with pioneering organizations like the Hope Foundation for Women and Children of Bangladesh, which runs Hope Hospital, to fund treatment for women who are suffering the misery and shame that accompanies obstetric fistula.
Most of us want to do something to help women like Hamida, but it can be hard to figure out how to help when she and other women suffering from obstetric fistula live so far away, in cultures we don't always understand.
But what if you could do something right now to help heal girls and women with fistula in the developing world? And what if helping was as simple as playing a game?
Today, it is. Half the Sky Movement: The Game launches today on Facebook. It's the next phase in the Half the Sky Movement, a call to action to end the oppression of women and girls worldwide, centered around the book and documentary film of the same name by Pulitzer Prize winning journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. In the game, players progress through a series of quests and stories related to challenges that real-world women and girls face, through examples provided by The Fistula Foundation and the six other NGO partners featured in the game, including GEMS, Heifer International, United Nations Foundation, ONE, Room to Read and World Vision.
The game gives all of us an opportunity to learn more about problems impacting women in the developing world, such as obstetric fistula. It also empowers us with a chance to act online for real-world change offline, thanks to our long-term partner, Johnson & Johnson, which has committed $250,000 to support surgeries for women in the developing world through this game.
So, for perhaps the first time in history, you can help a woman with fistula, like Hamida, get the surgery she desperately needs - simply by playing a game.