The Curious Autodidact

October 21, 2010

Women’s Basic Health in the Developing World

Filed under: media related,nonprofit,social justice,women heroes — Honilima @ 4:56 pm



Sometimes a movie or documentary can teach you something you knew nothing about and this is the finest use of the media. Enjoying a documentary, one that compels you to learn more, or take action, is even more enlightening.

Netflix has allowed many documentaries that may not have otherwise seen the light of day a new life in the hearts of viewers. Independent documentaries are often the most interesting and “A Walk to Beautiful” is a stunning story of Ethiopian women and introduces first-world viewers to the issue of obstetric fistula, a hole that forms between the vagina and the bladder or rectum during prolonged, obstructed labor. Women are left incontinent, some develop nerve damage in the feet and legs and most are shamed in their community because of their smell and disability.

Obstetric fistulas were virtually eradicated in the United States in 1895 and the first fistula hospital closed its doors in New York City in 1925.

This movie follows five Ethiopian women as they make their way to the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital and we watch as their lives change from one of utter ostracization to one of acceptance being around other women who have also been marginalized by her community.

You will meet the elderly and totally dedicated Australian British national Dr. Catherine Hamlin who founded the hospital in 1974 with her now deceased husband Dr. Reginald Hamlin. These services are supported by donations from the public and offered to the community without charge. You will see how the lives of these women are profoundly altered.

Less than six in two women in developing countries give birth with any trained midwife or doctor. In Ethiopia where this movie is filmed there are as estimated 100,000 women who suffer with untreated fistula, with over 9000 more women estimated to develop fistula annually.

According to the Fistula Foundation website “Because most fistula sufferers are young women—many still in their teens—they are likely to live with their condition for upwards of 25 years. By any estimate, there are at least two million women currently living with fistula throughout the developing world. The world capacity to treat fistula is estimated at 6,500 fistula repair surgeries per year.” This well produced documentary explains the shame and heartache involved with this all too common affliction, no one can watch this documentary without at least feeling more informed, if not driven to action. Hamlin Fistula Hospitals has initiated an expansion project to build five mini-fistula hospitals throughout Ethiopia. Tax Deductible Donations can be made The Fistula Foundation and mailed to: The Fistula Foundation, 1171 Homestead Road, Suite 265, Santa Clara, CA 95050. This is a marvelous movie to watch with friends or with your book group to raise awareness of this tragic condition.

After watching this film I was driven to read The Hospital by the River: A Story of Hope that further fleshes out the story of the couple who founded this hospital in Ethiopia in the late 1950s. Although it seems obvious the book was patched together from stories told the John Little the co-author the story makes up for the writing and is well worth a read if you’ve never read anything about Ethiopian culture or about a couple so self-sacrificing for the needs of others. Watch the movie, read the book and make a donation to this important cause.



October 14, 2010

Keeping a List of Books Read

Filed under: book related,helpful hints,media related,Word Related — Honilima @ 11:57 am

snowy nature

Many years ago a friend I worked with showed me a little book she carried around in her bag that detailed her book list. There was a list of what she’d read, what she thought about it, and what books she hoped to read. It was a revelation to me to keep a list of what books I had read, but I thought it was a bright idea so I have tried to keep my own list up to date ever since. Each December or January I review that list and put a star by the books I thought were the most outstanding and send it to my close friends who are also readers.

It is interesting years later to look back on these lists and think of where I was when I read whatever it was or to look back on the patterns of reading. I noticed this year I have already read several books by the same author, what does that say?

Goodreads is a website that puts this into a high-tech computerized version and allows you to share widely, or more narrowly, your list of books. It also has a section where you can trader books or read other people’s impressions of a book you are thinking of reading or have just read. It’s an interesting site to get lost in and you’d be amazed how many of your friends may already subscribe. Check it out and ignore the links to Amazon and Barnes and Noble and instead proudly support an independent bookstore like Elliott Bay Book Company, Powell’s Books, or The Strand Bookstore.

October 10, 2010

Wisdom about Life from Arundhati Roy

Filed under: women heroes,Word Related — Honilima @ 9:50 pm


To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget.
Arundhati Roy

October 5, 2010

Tech Tips: Things aren’t Always as They Appear

Filed under: cool internet stuff,helpful hints,media related — Honilima @ 9:28 am


People are often amazed at the variety of subjects I am interested in and can speak about. I attribute this to a lively sense of curiosity and some simple free technological assists. Three technological innovations that I use daily include pod casts, RSS feeds, and Google Alerts. Today I will feature a bit about pod casts and to keep the post shorter I will write about RSS feeds and Google Alerts in the future posts.

I love to subscribe to free pod casts. This allows me to pick and choose the shows that I listen to and the lectures I want to hear most. For the most part these recordings do not include adverts or those sponsorship breaks that make listening that much more of a time consumer. It’s a great way to sample different topics you may not otherwise know a thing about. If you can’t always get out to hear a speaker who comes to town, you can often hear them later on a free pod cast.

I subscribe, without charge, through Apple’s I-Tunes and delete those I don’t care to or have the time to listen to. Yes I’m the cheapskate who has never opened an I-tunes “account” so I don’t spend money on them rather I cull through the thousands that are made available for free, including lectures from Yale, Harvard, and Stanford.

I make cds of particularly stunning ones to send to friends and family who may not have access to mp3 devices, especially elderly friends who may be housebound.

Some of the favorite pod casts I subscribe to include: On Point Radio, Here on Earth, KQED Forum, Leo LaPorte The Tech Guy, Science Friday, WAMU Diane Rehm, The Commonwealth Club of California, and KUOW’s Speaker’s Forum.

Check it out, I think you will find this one of the free and easy ways to learn something new every day and without charge. I usually buy a refurbished i-pod shuffle for less than $40, but there are other off-brand mp3 players that you can buy for less money, or you can listen on your computer. I think you will find that access to these new horizons in knowledge will rock your world!

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