A Brookline mother-daughter will discuss their five-year journey working on obstetric fistula in Ethiopia during a Mother’s Day presentation at 5 p.m. May 11, at the Wellesley College Club, 106 Central St., Wellesley, Massachusetts.
When Brookline resident Sarah Gladstone was 12, she was encouraged by her synagogue to develop a social justice project in honor of her forthcoming bat mitzvah. She soon discovered the plight of young girls in Ethiopia who, forced to marry and bear children, are left with obstetric fistula, a medical condition that isolates them from their communities and leaves them physically and psychologically broken. Sarah committed herself to educating her community about this issue, and to raising the money to pay for one girl’s medical costs.
While a student at Brookline High, Sarah transformed her project into The Starfish Club, a school-wide organization focused on raising awareness and funds through the sale of bracelets they made from paper beads that were originally created by women in Cambodia. Over several years, she and the club raised $10,000 for the Fistula Foundation. Sarah is now finishing her first year as a student at Wellesley College.
Tracy Gladstone, Sarah’s mother and a senior research scientist at the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College, soon began considering ways her clinical research focused on depression prevention and treatment, could also benefit women recovering from fistula repair surgery. Working with colleagues in Ethiopia and the U.S., Tracy co-designed Project COFFEE, a program delivered to women while they are recovering from fistula repair surgery in the hospital, that aims to promote mental health and support re-integration. An open trial of this intervention conducted in Gondar, Ethiopia, showed promising results for women who participated.
Sarah accompanied Tracy on a research trip to Ethiopia and helped prepare materials used in a research-study intervention. Tracy and Sarah will discuss their five-year journey working on obstetric fistula in Ethiopia during this special presentation in honor of Mother’s Day, moderated by Layli Maparyan, WCW executive director. Free; reservations not required.