Despite being known for its rich biodiversity, Madagascar’s people face extreme poverty three quarters of the population live on less than $1.25 per day. Fertility rates are high, and child marriage is prevalent in poor, rural areas. Many women lack access to skilled health care providers during delivery, significantly increasing the risk of childbirth complications like fistula.
Last year, Fistula Foundation provided our first grant to SALFA, the Malagasy Lutheran Church’s health department, to support their efforts to provide fistula treatment in Madagascar. SALFA manages a network of hospitals, urban dispensaries, and rural health clinics across the island, with six of SALFA’s 10 hospitals providing routine fistula treatment.
This project was funded largely by, Icon, a line of reusable, washable and comfortable underwear designed to keep women of all ages dry and odor free from light bladder leaks. Since November 2015, Icon has allocated a percentage of its sales to Fistula Foundation, funding 71 free surgeries to women suffering from obstetric fistula in Madagascar through Fistula Foundation’s partner, SALFA.
“Icon panties were designed to help women live free of the anxiety and self-consciousness that comes with light leaks. It was a natural fit for us to support Fistula Foundation, and our customers love knowing that by purchasing our underwear, they’re also helping deliver the same strength and confidence they feel to a woman suffering from fistula in Madagascar,” said Kejal Macdonald, VP Marketing.
Last fall, photographer Sam Biddle volunteered his time and talents to travel to Madagascar to photograph and collect stories from some of the women who received free surgeries, thanks to Icon. In this slide show, you can view images from his trip: