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In 2013 CBM and its 506 partner organisations supported 672 projects in 68 countries, with a programme expenditure of EUR 60.5 million, reaching more than 10.5 million people in the poorest parts of the world.
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International Women’s Day

A smiling African woman wearing sterile clothes used in operating theatres
Sister Fidea Mussa, who works as an ophthalmic surgical nurse at CBM partner 'KCMC Hospital' in Tanzania). Read about Fidea's life below.

International Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated each year on March 8. Many events occur around the world - not just on this day but throughout March - to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women.

In more detail

8 March 2011 year marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. It is also the first International Women’s Day for UN Women, created by the UN General Assembly on 2 July 2010.

In its work to improve the lives of persons with disabilities in low income regions of the world, CBM prioritises services that improve the lives of children and women.

One woman's story - Fidea, 37 years as a theatre nurse in Tanzania

©CBM / Argum / Einberger
Fidea (second from right) at work in 2010
Fidea Mussa has experienced the change in eye healthcare in Tanzania during the last 37 years like nobody else. This operating theatre nurse has been working at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) in Moshi since 1973. That makes her one of the longest-serving local staff members of any CBM partner worldwide! When Fidea looks back on her life here, you can tell her enthusiasm and passion for her work.

No gloves or sutures
In the seventies a lot of things were much simpler than today. For example we didn’t have gloves for the surgeries and so we always washed our hands very thoroughly before entering the operation theatre. We also didn’t have sutures, with the consequence that patients who had got a cataract surgery had to stay in the ward for about seven days, lying flat on their backs without lifting or twisting their heads, so that the wound was healing without complications. They were lying there quite impatient for a week and nearly couldn’t wait to look around!

Today all that’s different: Often you don’t need a suture because the incision is so thin and long that it seals itself through the pressure of the eye. But also when a suture is needed the patient can move his head right from the beginning – that’s not a problem anymore. Only in the eighties we got sutures. In the beginning, quite thick stitches, but later on, the thin ones which we still use today. The instruments for the surgery have become thinner, too.

Improvisation was sometimes necessary
At that time I came together with Dr. Joseph Taylor to Moshi from the Mvumi hospital in central Tanzania. He had trained me there as a theatre nurse and wanted me to accompany him to the new hospital near the Kilimanjaro. In the beginning we often made journeys to remote places to operate on patients in hospitals, schools and sometimes churches if no other building was available. Most of all we did trachoma and cataract surgeries. Sometimes there wasn’t electricity and even if there was, we had to live with frequent power cuts. Then we tapped the car battery and laid a cable to the improvised operation table to have enough light for the surgery. Often it wasn’t very sterile how we worked. Funny, but we hardly had infections. Today, cataract is only operated in hospitals.

The dangers of flight
One journey I will never forget. CBM-ophthalmologist  Dr. Marily Scudder and I were on a flight to a very remote hospital. Suddenly the plane dropped, shot into the depth and the pilot only just saved us from a crash and was able to land. Before we went to the waiting patients I told the pilot to check the plane or I wouldn’t get in again. So while Dr. Scudder and I were working inside the hospital the pilot checked the aircraft and invited six bystanders for a test flight. Up in the air the plane caught fire almost immediately. They managed to land but two passengers died on the spot. The pilot got out unhurt but sustained heavy burns while trying to rescue the others. He and all his passengers died a short time after in the hospital. That was the worst thing that happened to me during all the years, but fortunately it only happened once.

Risks and rewards
A lot of surgeries are routine now, but each also includes a risk. When a patient has already lost one eye and we operate on his remaining one I always hold my breath and hope that all turns out well. Of course a lot of patients are nervous when they come into the operating room then it is up to us to give them assurance. I like to visit them in the ward when the bandage is removed the day after surgery for the first time because that is pure joy! When the patients are happy that they can see again – that are the best stories!

While Fidea is telling her story, a broad smile sweeps over her face. You can see how much she loves this profession in which she helped to save or restore people’s eye sight for nearly 40 years.

A thought from Nigeria - March 2011

Headshot of Patience Ogolo ©CBM
"It is my hope that as we celebrate this year's women day, we will also remember those women with disabilities living in poor communities, facing discrimination and struggling to make an impact."

Patience Ogolo
Operations Officer
CBM Nigeria

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2011 global theme

The International Women's Day logo


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