A Walk To Beautiful Movie Review


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This is an incredibly beautiful and powerful documentary about the work of the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia. Obstetric fistula occurs during obstructed labor, when the child becomes stuck in the birth canal and presses on the mother’s tissues for too long, leaving a hole between the vaginal wall and the bladder and/or rectum that causes the woman to constantly leak urine and/or feces. Once common, it is now nearly unheard of in the developed world, but still ruins the lives of tens of thousands of women in the developing world every year. Victims are commonly abandoned by their husbands and families and ostracized.

The documentary follows the cases of three women who are able to seek help at the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital to reverse their condition and reclaim their lives. Obstetric fistulas are considered a disease of poverty and the documentary touches on the heart-breaking concurrence of factors that make fistulas such a common occurrence in Ethiopia: inadequate nutrition in childhood, resulting in short stature and underdeveloped pelvises, early marriage (teenage mothers are more likely to experience obstructed labor than adults), and lack of adequate access to prenatal care and the services of trained doctors and midwives during birth, among others. It also touches on some cultural factors such as the prevalence of bride kidnapping and forced marriages in rural Ethiopia.

Despite such heartbreaking detail about the hardship of women’s lives in Ethiopia, the film is ultimately life-affirming and inspiring. I cried multiple times watching it, but I smiled, too. I wish we could hear more about how the women are doing today, especially Wubete, whose life has been a nearly unimaginable litany of horror but who ends the film smiling, happy, and finally safe.

Watch the complete documentary:

If you’re inspired to help, you can donate directly to the hospital via Hamlin Fistula USA/Hamlin Fistula UK/Hamlin Fistula Australia, or indirectly via The Fistula Foundation, which works in Afghanistan, Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh as well as many other African countries, and is rated a 4 star charity by Charity Navigator.

My rating: (5 / 5)