Frock Up & Fight Fistula!

Lyn with women receiving treatment for fistula in Africa

Image: Lyn with women receiving treatment for fistula in Africa (2015)

On Monday (November 2), long-term CBM supporter Lyn Wake is celebrating her birthday, but instead of celebrating the milestone with presents and cake, Lyn is instead asking Australians to dig deep to donate in support of her late daughter Bethany’s remarkable legacy of helping the poor and the disadvantaged.

Bethany sadly passed away from aggressive brain cancer in 2011, aged 15. Her family and friends helped to establish the Bethany Wake Fund, to perpetuate her memory and improve outcomes for people in some of the most poverty-stricken parts of the world.

Lyn’s birthday is an opportunity to donate to continue Bethany’s legacy with CBM – with funds raised by the Bethany Wake Fund throughout 2020 supporting the organisation’s fistula treatment and prevention work in Africa.

The day is also a chance to frock up at home, at a time when our formal ware has been in the closet during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Find a frock to frolic in, snap a photo of yourself,send it via email and make a small donation to Bethany’s legacy with CBM,” says Lyn in her birthday invite.

Lyn has had a close relationship with CBM since Bethany passed away, including travelling to Nepal as a CBM ambassador last year, where she was able to witness life-changing work including cataracts surgery first-hand.

“We truly thank God for the opportunity to fulfil [Bethany’s] dreams through this dynamic partnership with CBM,” wrote Lyn at the time.

This year’s cause of fighting fistula in Africa was a topic close to Bethany’s heart, as the teenager dreamed of one day becoming a midwife.

Fistula is of particular concern in Nigeria, where over half a million women live with the treatable and preventable condition largely due to poverty and inadequate access to health care.

The condition can occur when an unborn baby’s head puts too much pressure on a mother’s maternal tissues, which cuts off the blood supply.

When the tissue dies, the resultant fistula (hole) can cause the mother to uncontrollably leak bodily waste. Tragically, their babies often die, which can leave mothers to deal with grief and stigmatisation.

CBM’s work in Africa includes training local healthcare workers to identify high-risk pregnancies and ensure expectant mothers are referred to hospitals to help deliver babies safely and treat women with fistula.

“These precious women are given a new dress after their surgery. So in frocking up [next week], we celebrate in solidarity with them,” says Lyn.

In Nigeria, CBM is delivering a three-year maternal healthcare program includes better healthcare for women and girls, community awareness and advocacy and training of workers in remote villages.

With the Bethany Wake Fund having raised close to $200,000 since it was founded, Lyn says that reaching the goal and in turn changing the lives of vulnerable women in Africa would be the best birthday gift imaginable.

To send a photo of yourself in a frock email cbm@cbm.org.au

To donate to the Bethany Wake Fund to help CBM fight fistula in Africa, visit www.cbm.org.au/stories/bethany-wake-fund