A part of any trip to the Phebe Rehab Center involves arts and crafts projects, as well as other activities with the survivors. So many of the survivors spoke of their friends (and in some cases, their family members) abandoning them because of their fistula. In the confines the Rehab Center, they formed new friendships and found acceptance. Some are healed and some are still leaking “small small.” Though each survivor’s experience was different, there were common threads in all their stories: the leaking caused by the fistula, of course, the abandonment by others, the shame they felt, and the isolation.
It is important for the survivors to interact with and be accepted by others. It is also a joy to get to know these young ladies and for them to get to know us! Boy did we get to know each other! In addition to getting their faces decorated, they learned how to make bracelets and necklaces. The big project that they all seemed to enjoy, was decorating T-shirts with stenciling, jewels and beads. Some cut fringe around the bottom of their shirts and used beads to weave them together. Others used stencils to paint them and jewels to further decorate them. The shirts were quite elaborate and quite beautiful. The girls clearly enjoyed letting their creative juices flow! We left them with quite a few supplies to make more shirts.
All this activity was probably a welcome interlude from the boredom of having little to do. The Rehab Center had not received funding in several months. Teachers were laid off and there is no material for sewing or soap making or to practice any of the other skills they had learned.
Back at the palava hut, things were happening!