Climbing mountains for obstetric fistulas

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Some students organize bake sales to raise funds for social causes; others seek sponsors to run a marathon or climb a mountain. Ilya Brotzky ’10 is doing both and much more. He and eight other Cornell students (more are welcome) plan to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania this January to raise money and awareness for obstetric fistulas.

As leader of the Fistula Free Climb, Brotzky, originally of Siberia, says the group hopes to raise $100,000 for OperationOF.org.

The students also will volunteer in Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center’s fistula ward before and after the climb.

“Obstetric fistulas are lesions that occur during child labor that cause the mother to lose control of her bowels and constantly leak urine and stool. She ends up living alone because no one can tolerate the smell and must beg for a living,” says Brotzky, who says he was inspired by a July 26, 2007, Cornell Chronicle article about Seth Cochran ’00, M.Eng. ’01, who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro to help raise $40,000 for cleft lip surgeries in the developing world.

(Cochran also is involved with ending obstetric fistula worldwide.

Most of the students are either Cornell Tradition or Meinig Family Cornell National Scholars, who can each use up to $2,000 from the programs to help cover trip costs.

So far, the group has raised $1,200. Upcoming fundraisers:

Level B Event: Wednesday, Oct. 28, 9 p.m.

Concert: Friday, Nov. 6, at Theta Delta Chi fraternity, 7 p.m.

Auction: Saturday, Nov. 14, at Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, 7 p.m.

For more information, check out Brotzky’s blog.

- Susan S. Lang



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