Elsie Wandera is the Founder of Endometriosis Foundation of Kenya (EFK). I first featured Elsie on this blog in March last year, where she talked about her 20 years of severe period pain, and the initiative she started as a result of her difficult menstruation years.
She said: “The entire school community would know when I was menstruating. I would feel as though the insides of my abdomen were being knotted, tugged at and pulled apart in all directions. It was as though my abdomen was being stabbed by a thousand knives….” Read more of Elsie’s experience here.
But first, what is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition where a woman experiences extreme levels of pain during her period. Pain that can sometimes lead to hospitalization. Other symptoms of endometriosis include; heavy periods, pain during or after sex, painful bowel movements and urination, pain in the lower back that could last throughout the menstrual cycle, and difficulty in getting pregnant.
Today, Elsie is our guest writer and she tells us what activity EFK was engaged in recently.
“On Saturday 5 March 2016, the Endometriosis Foundation of Kenya was privileged to host the 1st Endometriosis Awareness Forum, which was attended by 25 people. We also had the opportunity of hosting Dr. Mutinda Kyama -a scientist who has special interest in the pathogenesis of endometriosis.
As I listened to Dr. Kyama’s presentation, even though it was laden with heavy with scientific jargon, all I could see was the endless opportunities for Kenyan women who continue to painfully live with Endometriosis.
“What if, just what if Kenya leads the world in the discovery of a cure for this disease? What if we discovered new and faster methods of diagnosing this condition without using invasive methods? What if… just what if?”
I was so heart broken when I listened to the many stories that fellow women shared on that day and I told myself, “If this is the reason God had me start this organization – to provide a platform for women to come and share their pain and find solutions for it, then it is all worth it.”
From my own experience and those of other women, social stigma over reproductive health problems, lack of awareness, and the “normalization” of symptoms results in delay of diagnosis until the time the woman’s endometriosis condition is eventually diagnosed and treated. Many girls and women suffer in silence. It is for this reason that the Endometriosis Foundation of Kenya (EFK) continues to raise awareness about the disease in Kenya. This month, we have heightened our awareness activities since the month of March is recognized as Endometriosis Awareness Month.
Endometriosis Awareness Forums aim to raise awareness about this hidden and often unrecognized condition. My hope is that I can engage with key stakeholders to champion the cause, partner with those in the medical field and spread the word in schools and universities, and care for the women who suffer the effects of the disease.
The one thing we can do for the women who are out there is to help them be aware of this condition and also give financial support to those affected by it but yet don’t have medical insurance. These women also need counselling because this condition affects not only their physical but their mental and emotional wellbeing.
If men championed this campaign, I believe the stigma around it would reduce significantly. Periods are normal… that is the way God chose to design a woman to enable her do the most sacred of all things…conceive and bring a child into this world. There is nothing wrong with women who are going through this journey except how we treat them during this delicate period.
Extend these women love…extend them care…#SpreadTheYellow by helping us raise awareness in the month of March so that the world hears the voices of women who are suffering in silence.”
You can also join the endometriosis community in Kenya on the Facebook page: Endometriosis Foundation of Kenya.
Ps: This blog (Mummy Tales) has been nominated for an award in the 2016 BAKE awards – in the Best Topical Blog category. I will appreciate your support. Kindly click on this link to cast your vote (number 11 .b). Thank you for your time.