Berlin, Germany [CD-EUDNews]. The day after the inauguration of the Desert Flower Center at Waldfriede Adventist Hospital, Berlin, Germany, two young ladies received the first reconstruction after being victims of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Denise Hochstrasser, Women’s Ministries director for the Adventist Church’s Inter-European Division, based in Berne, Switzerland, stayed there the whole time. “The operations went very, very good,” she said. “The first lady was the youngest one. She is only 19 years old. The older one is 34. Her case was different. When they woke up, they were smiling. They realized that a new life was starting, above all they are happy they can be married."
In France there is a waiting list of 1000 women like these two young women. In Germany there is not yet a waiting list, but the Hospital will receive people from France and the Desert Flower Center will settle the financial questions. Bernd Quoss, Waldfriede Hospital CEO, said “the finances where never a question for me. The first question was always to help. So we never worried for finances.”
During the evening Inauguration ceremony of September 11, Quoss said: “We have a new foundation. You can sign and help to finance. It is an organization called Desert Flower Center. So if people have no money for the operation, the foundation will finance them. So everybody can come.”
The Waldfriede Hospital is the first hospital in Europe offering help for this issue in a different approach. They cure the body, but they intervene also with psychological and spiritual support. After the operation, 85% of women have normal sexual feelings like any other normal woman. But healing the deepest wounds needs more time and adequate support.
Gabriela Stangl, Chaplain of the Hospital will be in charge of offering psychological and spiritual support. “We can help them to have a better life. We cannot restore them totally in most cases but we can help them to have a life with quality. That is what we can do,” Stangl said. “We have to listen, we have to learn and then to find the strategy. We can help them accept the situation they are in and we can help them to do their best …and help them to live with that. We have just started and we are looking forward to the outcome.”
According to a declaration of Waris Dirie, these mutilations are not a religious question. The fighting is against a cultural ritual that is unacceptable. “I agree with this but still I believe that many women who are mutilated think that their religion wants them to do so. In many countries mutilation is forbidden,” said Hochstrasser. Many country leaders made a law against women's mutilation. But in many villages this practice is active because they still believe it is their religion that asks them to do so, even if it is not true. People have a wrong understanding of this matter.
Thanks to Desert Flower Center the two young ladies recovering from this absurd cultural ritual. Asking them what they think about all this attention they are receiving at the moment they said they liked it, as if it is returning to them part of the life somebody stole from them. But healing will be a long process. For the moment they are thinking of getting married, and this is what counts to them.
One of the speakers of the Desert Flower Center inauguration, Evelyn Brenda, ADRA Germany, affirmed: “My message would be that one of the best ways to overcome FGM is to actually build bridges to the people and the community and work together with men. Without working with men and coming together with the community it is very, very difficult to overcome this FGM.” (ADRA is an agency that works in favor of development and relief in emerging countries of the world).
Making people aware is the best way to prevent such abuse. Most of these people are not exposed to knowledge, to internet, to information in countries where FGM is a “normal” practice. “If we give to the people the knowledge in health aspects, then they understand. We have to build bridges. This means we go to the people and help them understand the reason why we want to stop that and show them it is possible to change. We have to give women the feeling, 'you are still beautiful, you are wonderful'. Working with men, working with the community, and bringing the message to the local level is the key to overcome” concluded Brenda.
“It is urgent to establish an education and information program” said Corrado Cozzi, Communication director for the Adventist Church’s Inter-European Region, “and to support women like Evelyn Brenda as they make a difference in this process of improving lives.”
pictures: 1. The Desert Flower Center entrance; 2. Denise Hochstrasser, EUD Women's Ministries Director, with Gabriela Stangl, chaplain of Waldfriede Adventist Hospital in Berlin, German Medal of Merit for operating the "cradle," a padded box behind the hospital clinic accessible by a single unmonitored entrance where women can anonymously leave their unwanted babies; 3. Evelyn Brenda, Co-Founder of the Kajiado Rescue Centers;
Pictures: Corrado Cozzi; DesertFlowerFoundation;