Tips & Advice

From Dr. Liz Herself

August 27, 2020
Ethix and Beyond Fistula
Healthy African Woman

Over 2 Trillions of dollars are spent every day. What could this world look like if part of the money spent on credit card payments every day went to non-profit groups that help make the world a better place?

I am part of a socially responsible business movement that is doing just that.

Let me share with you how this came to be.

As an OB/GYN doctor, I have seen the health benefits of economic privilege. An important example is the rate of childbirth complications. In the United States, the overall rate of childbirth complications is very low, even though our C-section rate is very high (about a third of all births). Compare this with most of Africa, where no more than about 6% of births are by C-section.

What is fistula?

Unfortunately, the C-section rate in Africa is so low because often the surgical delivery of a baby is simply not an option, in which case many young women end up with terrible complications or even die in childbirth. Impregnated at a young age, or short in height due to malnutrition, some women in many rural parts of Africa have to labor until the baby passes vaginally (usually not alive), which can result in a type of childbirth injury called a fistula.

A woman with a childbirth-related fistula has an abnormal connecting passage between her vagina and either her bladder or her rectum. In addition to physically leaking fluids, she may often also have nerve damage in her legs or feet. Women in Africa with fistulas often end up socially outcast and economically stranded. 

Beyond Fistula

In 2011, my friend Dr. Debbie Matityahu, an OB/GYN doctor in Redwood City, traveled to Kenya with her daughter Arielle, where they visited a hospital specializing in fistula repair. They met some of the patients recovering from their surgeries, and realized how much more help they needed to rebuild their lives. Then 12-year-old Arielle looked at Debbie and said, “Mom, we have to help!”

They established a non-profit that became Beyond Fistula.

I met Dr. Debbie in 2015 shortly after getting back from my first trip to Kenya and Tanzania. When I learned about Beyond Fistula, I immediately knew I wanted to help, because even when she is home in the Bay Area, Debbie is making a difference every day.

In Eldoret, Kenya, the Beyond Fistula campus helps women who have had successful fistula repair surgeries go on to learn skills, including hairdressing, literacy skills, computer training, and business skills such as bookkeeping. These women, many of whom were shunned from by families and villages due to their fistulas, have new possibilities for economic survival and social reintegration.

Ethix Merchant Services

In 2019, through Jon Kaufman, my friend in both Toastmasters and Rotary International, I met Steve Patzkowski, founder of Ethix Merchant Services

Steve founded Ethix, as it says on their web site, “to prove that socially responsible and sustainable businesses can thrive AND deliver huge value back into the communities that support them.” 

Ethix donates 10% of their gross revenues to the charity of choice of the business owner. They also charge lower fees than most other credit card processors. If I sound like I’m trying to sell you on Ethix Merchant Services, that’s because I am! They make a difference every day.

Last year, I changed to Ethix for processing all credit card payments for my business. Through Ethix, I donate to Beyond Fistula. Whether in my medical practice or through my web site, every payment you make to my business now makes a difference every day.

If you have a business that accepts credit card payments, you can use Ethix to donate 10% of its gross revenue each month to the non-profit of *your* choice. Every day your business makes a sale, YOU make a difference.

If you work or volunteer with a non-profit that could use more funding (wouldn’t this be most non-profits?!?), you can introduce Ethix to local businesses, then the Ethix rep does all the explaining and set-up. Businesses that switch to Ethix can then donate to the non-profit you care about, giving them a new passive stream of income. In this way, you can make a difference every day.

In my practice, I mostly help women in the San Francisco Bay Area, where many have great socioeconomic privilege and childbirth complications are rare and usually manageable. On the other side of the world, in Africa, women going through something as common as childbirth can end up with tragic consequences. By switching from my big bank credit card payment processor to Ethix, I am proud and honored to be able to make a difference every day in the lives of women, both here and far away.

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