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On one of her numerous trips to Niger for the U. S. State Department's International Information Program in Africa, Barbara Margolies was introduced to the fistula problem by Madam Aicha Foumakoye - then Minister of Social Development for Niger.
In August of 03, International Organization for Women and Development, Inc was formed. The purpose of the organization was to bring volunteer surgeons and nurses to operate and care for the fistula women, and at the same time, train Nigeriens surgeons in these surgical skills. The goal was to make this a self sustaining Nigerien program.
Our first medical mission took place in October 2003. As of April, 2009, IOWD surgical teams had returned to Niger 22 times and had performed over 1,000 surgeries.
Due to a military coup, subsequent political upheaval, and kidnappings and killing of some Western visitors, we have suspended our work in Niger. We are presently involved in Rwanda, bringing surgeons to help fistula patients and bringing specialists and nurses in various medical areas who work in King Faisal Hospital, the National Hospital of Kigali (CHUK) and in Kibagabaga Regional Hospital.
Barbara A. Margolies, Founder and Executive Director of IOWD, is an educator, author, lecturer and photographer. For the past 26 years, Ms. Margolies has been involved in various health and developmental projects throughout Africa.