Several years ago, as an undergraduate at the University of Calabar, I heard about some young girls who had been forced into early marriage and were suffering the negative and embarrassing effects of Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF). Little did I know then that the desire to help those girls and also spread the awareness on the dangers of the condition would linger with me and turn into a burning passion.
Years later, I embarked on a journey of research and visits to several hospitals and VVF centers both within and outside Nigeria to interact with girls and women suffering from the condition and doctors who took care of them. I also partnered with NGOs in other African countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone.
These visits, interactions and research conducted over some years provided the blueprint for the script of my soon to be released movie called ‘DRY’ which I directed and acted in. Set to be released soon, DRY is a movie centered around two girls who found themselves in the same cultural trap full of ignorance and cruelty.
For some reason, I am deeply moved by young girls and women suffering from this condition and would continue to do everything I can to help as many of them as possible. This is why DRY, to me, is more than just a movie. My interaction with women and young girls living with VVF has made me realise how lucky I am. And I’m also very grateful to SNEPCo/NNPC who recently sponsored a VVF Project at General Hospital, Ogoja, Cross River state where a team of doctors carried out repair surgeries on 22 women and catered for them for 2 weeks, nursing them back to health.
The project was coordinated by my charity organisation Extended Hands Foundation in collaboration with Next Page Productions.
Aside from the surgeries, the foundation also donated surgical equipment and electrical supplies which was presented to the hospital at an event attended by the Commissioner for Social Welfare & Community Development, Cross River State Barrister Patricia Endeley and the Director Health, Population and Nutrition Office USAID Dr Nancy Lowenthal. Other people who were present include Dr Joseph Monehine, Dr Adamu of Engender Health and the Chief Surgeon Dr Sa’ad Idris.
It was a life changing experience. Some of these women had lived with this embarrassing condition for several years. Before the surgery, they passed urine uncontrollably, while one particular girl, Vero, also passed out feaces too. They had been subjected to shame, embarrassment and denied the chance of living normal lives.
It was therefore such a joy to see these women restored to normal health, to see them become ‘Dry’.
I’m so grateful to the sponsors of this project and the wonderful doctors and nurses who dedicated their time and effort to this project. Dry still remains more than just a movie as we would continue to spread the word against child marriage and VVF.
See some pictures from the Ogoja project.
If you want to be a part of this project or have any suggestions or donations, do send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org