Just yesterday, I was speaking to KK Wiseman, a Disciples pastor in Nashville, TN. She had just returned from a meeting with colleagues, who expressed surprise when she described the flood damage from which Nashville is recovering.
After all, the Tennessee Regional Office was destroyed. Several of our churches experienced flooding, and the homes of many church members were lost. After a well-publicized failure of the national media, coverage of the flood damage made its way into the news cycle.
And still, people close to the workings of the church in Tennessee missed it—the severity of the flood, and in a couple of cases, the fact that it even happened. As KK reflected, if we can miss something happening in the middle of the United States, what else might we miss around the world?
This past weekend, I attended an excellent symposium on the Congo, sponsored by our friends and denominational partners at Global Ministries. Though many of the issues facing the Congo—such as ongoing violent conflict, the role of mining in fueling the conflict, the use of systematic sexual violence to destabilize entire villages—are well documented, one speaker in particular, Muadi Mukenge, an advocate for women in the region, raised something else we often miss—an issue facing women in the Congo and in other regions facing severe poverty: fistula.
A tearing between a woman's birth passage and one or more of her internal organs, fistula often happens when women receive substandard obstetric care. Women with fistulas experience incontinence of urine and/or feces, which produces severe odor. Their families and communities often abandon or marginalize them.
What’s most amazing is that it only costs about US$450 to repair a fistula, and yet, it is a medical condition that largely goes untreated, mainly because people who can do something about it MISS IT.
At Week of Compassion, we partner with great organizations like IMA World Health, Church World Service, and Global Ministries, all of which work to support community health issues like fistula across regions facing severe poverty. Through your partnership, we continue to make a difference all over the world. However, none of us can make a difference in the lives of people in North America or around the world if we don’t know what people are facing; part of reaching out in Courageous Compassion is spreading the word about the issues our sisters and brothers face all over the world. And doing so starts by asking a simple question:
What have we missed?