On Friday, November 20, forty-five women from across the country gathered via Zoom to learn, give, and celebrate the joy of empowering women. Through the compassion and generosity of iZōsh®️ Birmingham members and guests, they were able to grant $7,450 in micro-loans to 31 women who graduated from the Healing Hands of Joy Safe Motherhood Ambassador Program this year! 

The keynote speaker was Allison Shigo, CEO and co-founder of Healing Hands of Joy. She educated attendees on the plight of women living with obstetric fistula in Ethiopia. The work she is doing at Healing Hands of Joy through the Safe Motherhood Ambassador program is truly inspiring. She discussed the impact COVID-19 has had on the women in Ethiopia and how a $250 micro-loan will change the course of these women’s lives. Through her travels to Ethiopia working on the Emmy Award winning documentary, A Walk to Beautiful, a film following the lives of five Ethiopian women who have suffered from obstetric fistula, Allison witnessed firsthand the need for an organization that works with the Ethiopian community to ensure all women suffering from obstetric fistula are reintegrated into their communities, receive psychological care, education, support and the means to be productive post-surgery. In 2009, she co-founded Healing Hands of Joy, a non-profit dedicated to serving the needs of women with obstetric fistula and currently serves as CEO. Working with a team of Ethiopian advisors and staff, Allison developed the Healing Hands of Joy program and Safe Motherhood Ambassador Training pilot project to transform and improve the lives of former fistula patients. Her vision is to see the Safe Motherhood Ambassador Training program change fistula patient’s lives around the world and prevent more women from suffering needlessly.  

  Attendees were assigned to Zoom breakout rooms to discuss and vote on which loan recipients would receive funding. Then a representative from each room told the whole group a little about each women who was chosen, and everyone celebrated together.

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