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ISLAND: Nurse Calls For Island To Help African Victims

A nurse who has devoted her working life to helping women in Bermuda is now aiming to assist females in Africa and she wants you to join her.

Mother-of-two Gaynell Hayward, the Island's programme manager for maternal health and family planning, is fundraising for victims of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Ethiopia.

She is asking people to make a donation of $25 enough to ensure that a pregnant victim of the barbaric practice can safely deliver her child.

Mrs. Hayward was inspired to help after she was told by Islander Howard Crockwell about the Tropical Health Alliance Foundation.

After researching the organisation, she discovered it assisted patients at the Gimbie Adventist Hospital in Ethiopia a place where she volunteered for three weeks after her husband John died suddenly nine years ago.

"That just blew my mind, that Gimbie would be resurfacing again after so long," said Mrs. Hayward, adding that she benefited hugely from her time at the hospital.

"I was able to reach out to people who were less fortunate than me, whose needs were greater than mine and by doing that it allowed me to get a different perspective on life.

"Women's health has always been my forte, I love it, and this is a way of giving back to somewhere that helped me."

The World Health Organisation estimates that between 100 and 140 million girls and women in the world have undergone FGM and three million girls are believed to be at risk every year.

The charity Maternity Worldwide says 90 percent of expectant mothers in Ethiopia give birth without any assistance and those who have undergone FGM are at greater risk of complications or even death.

Mrs. Hayward, director of the women's ministry at Southampton Seventh-day Adventist Church, said: "Biblically, you are your brother's keeper. Just by reaching back it helps everyone to go forward. This is an opportunity to help."

She is suggesting people buy the donation as a gift for their own mother perhaps for Mother's Day this weekend or for another loved one on any special occasion.

"Mothers die every day, fathers die every day," she said. "A woman doesn't just deliver one day a year."

Mrs. Hayward is hoping to bring Larry Thomas, chairman of the Tropical Health Alliance Foundation to Bermuda to talk about FGM in July.

He will follow in the footsteps of Salimata Badji Knight, an FGM survivor from Senegal who now campaigns against the practice and who was invited here by Amnesty International in 2006 to tell her story.

To make a donation or find out more call Mrs. Hayward on 332-8931, Mr. Crockwell on 238-0320 or Patrice Smith on 232-3745.

SOURCE: The Royal Gazette

AUTHOR: Sam Strangeways

URL: Click here

DATE: 18/05/2008

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