Wubete and 100,000 more

Ever seen Nova’s “A Walk to Beautiful“? I was sure I’d posted about it at ur-B&W but I didn’t find such a post so I guess I didn’t. It was repeated on one of the local PBS stations last night so I saw it for the third time.

It rips my guts out every time. It’s about a hospital in Addis Ababa that repairs fistulas in women, which means it’s about a hospital that receives women who are outcasts, miserable, isolated, lonely, and repairs them. Everything about it is moving.

The real killer is Wubete, who is there for the third time, because the first two didn’t work. They tell her to do exercises and she’s in despair, because she’s been doing them and they don’t work…and she doesn’t want to go home because they all reject her there. Her father forced her to marry as a child – she kept refusing, she kept running away, but finally she got pregnant so she had to stay. She was 11 or 12. It wouldn’t have happened, she says miserable, if her mother had been alive. Then having the stillborn baby destroyed her bladder – and the hospital can’t fix it. Tears roll down her cheeks, and the nurse tells her (very kindly – they’re all very kind at that place) not to be so broken-hearted. Later Wubete goes to the head nurse and says she doesn’t want to go home, is there any way she could stay on? She’s so forlorn. I know how it comes out for her and still it just about kills me to watch it. (*Spoiler)

I always wish I were Bill Gates when I watch it; I would like to give that hospital $1 billion, so that they could repair more than a tiny fraction of the women who need it. But much better would be if Ethiopians and others would stop marrying off girls who are way too young and small to bear children. (One of the saddest things about the Ethiopian women is that they start doing hard labor very young, so they don’t have enough calories to grow, so they are small.)

*It comes out well.


  1. josefjohann says

    I did see this. I don’t even remember why I chose to see it, but I did. It was amazing. If I remember correctly, they don’t disclose how many people in Africa suffer from this and could be treated until the end. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to actually understanding that there are people behind the numbers.

  2. Beauzeaux says

    If you haven’t, read “Cutting for Stone” a truly beautiful book that mostly tskes place in Addis. It’s in my top ten of favorite books and I read a lot and always have.

    One theme of the book is about the same subject. I don’t think I could watch the documentary — it’s wrenching enough to read about it.

  3. says

    Josef, not quite at the end, but pretty far in. It’s the wonderful Dr Catherine Hamlin who gives the numbers: we can do about 1500 a year, she says…pause…but we estimate there are 100,000 who need it.

    Then there’s a shot of stacks of files.

    She’s been there since 1959. Her husband would be too if he were still alive.

    Beauz – I would try to put up with the wrenching if I were you. I think it’s worth it. Have a box of kleenex and a wastebasket handy, but try. You shouldn’t miss the people – and how it works out for Wubete.

    Thanks for the book title; noted.

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  5. Debra says

    What a movie!. I am in tears as I write this. I will send a donation, but I wish I could send a billion dollars to help. Wubete is such a lovely, sensitive and intelligent young woman. She will be in my heart forever.


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