By Sr. Dr. Maura Lynch
When Kitovu Fistula Camps (four regular camps per year) were first inaugurated, Barbara Doherty, wife of Dr. Peter Doherty (whose generosity built the first fistula repair unit in Uganda and was officially opened in 2005) suggested and funded that a new dress to be given to each repaired fistula lady on discharge. As we dressed the happy women in their new dresses, it struck us that they also needed new panties to celebrate their renewed dignity after successful operations (when incontinent, the women with fistula used rags and plastic bags to hide their constant wetness). I mentioned the need to other women as I fund-raised by relating the plight of the women with birth injury incontinence in Uganda. Soon gifts of panties began to arrive by post to Kitovu and the “Panty Project” was born. Up to the present, we receive gift packets of new panties mostly from my friends in Ireland (Yvonne and Mai) and through Church of Ireland in Kildare (and even “seconds” from other organizations and firms — F/F Tesco here sent us panties and bras).
And the excitement continues every time we distribute the lovely panties to each lady after repair. She is discharged dry, happy and with new dignity to be re-inserted (re-integrated) into the community and social life from which she felt she was previously rejected and marginalized.