Health—General & Rehabilitative


  • Schaumburg, IL

Mission Statement

Worldwide Fistula Fund is a non-profit global health organization helping girls and women with obstetric fistulas to recover and build new lives. Working with local partners in sub-Saharan Africa, WFF provides girls and women surgical care, rehabilitation, literacy & vocational classes, and trains African doctors in fistula prevention & treatment. We are the oldest organization in the United States focused on obstetric fistula.

Main Programs

  1. Danja Fistula Center
  2. Mekelle University Urogynecology Residency
  3. Reintegration Program

service areas


Self-reported by organization

ruling year


chief executive for fy 2015

Soja Orlwoski

Self-reported by organization



Self-reported by organization

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2014, 2014 and 2013.
Register now



Physical Address

Two Woodfield Lake 1100 E. Woodfield Road, Suite 350

Schaumburg, IL 60173


Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Health Support Services (E60)

Hospital (Specialty) (E24)

Specifically Named Diseases (G80)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990-N.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Impact statement

Worldwide Fistula Fund (WFF) has effectively addressed obstetric fistula in the three core areas of treatment, prevention and reintegration/empowerment training in Niger, Uganda, and Ethiopia by:

• Performing and supporting 1,039 fistula repair surgeries
• Empowering 678 fistula survivors with literacy and vocational skills training
• Training 482 medical students, doctors and community health advocates to improve childbirth safety and increase access to expert care

To-date, WFF has collected anecdotal evidence of effectiveness from clients: women have started catering and tailoring businesses based on what they learned through reintegration training, women have hired other survivors in their businesses, women have reunited with their husbands/families and women who have become trainers at our reintegration center to teach other survivors the same skills they utilized to start their businesses. Fistula survivors report feeling like valuable members of their communities again and able to generate income to support themselves.


What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Self-reported by organization

Program 1

Danja Fistula Center

The WFF will officially open the Danja Fistula Center, a free-standing obstetric fistula hospital, in February 2012. The Center will not only offer a comprehensive range of short- and long-term services to women suffering from fistula but also function as a training and research center for medical professionals. Over the coming years, the WFF hopes to advance the message of hope and healing by replicating this Center in other developing nations around the world.
Within just five years, the Center will:
provide care for up to 2,500 women with fistula
train at least 30 doctors from Niger and other African countries in fistula repair and
develop community-based programs to aid in the prevention of obstructed labor (the major cause of fistula).
To achieve these milestones, the WFF is currently working to raise several million dollars in a capital campaign.


Health Care



Population Served

Female Adults

Program 2

Mekelle University Urogynecology Residency

In 2014, we launched our newest program in Ethiopia – the Mekelle Medical School Residency, a post-graduate residency program in obstetrics and gynecology with direct training in the prevention and treatment of fistulas.


Medical Research


Population Served

Female Adults

Female Youth/Adolescents (14 - 19 years)

Program 3

Reintegration Program

In Uganda, WFF supports TERREWODE, a local nonprofit committed to improving post-surgical care and social rehabilitation for fistula survivors. WFF helped launch a Reintegration Center where survivors benefit from services like counseling, nutritional support, literacy education and entrepreneurial and vocational skills training.




Population Served

Female Adults

Female Youth/Adolescents (14 - 19 years)

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Self-reported by organization

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    The mission of Worldwide Fistula Fund is to heal and rebuild the lives of girls and women in sub-Saharan Africa who suffer from obstetric fistula while increasing accessibility of expert obstetric care to improve childbirth safety.
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    1. WFF offers comprehensive services to women suffering from obstetric fistulas: life-changing surgery, individualized recovery plans and rehabilitation, and literacy education and vocational training.

    2. WFF partners with organizations and official agencies in the communities we serve to ensure women in need are receiving necessary care.

    • In Niger, our primary working partner is the Network for the Eradication of Obstetric Fistula (REF), the governmental health system, which assists with DFC programs in recruitment and prevention.

    • In Uganda, we partner with TERREWODE, a leading non-profit Ugandan NGO headquartered in Soroti, which has pioneered best practices to address fistula for over 16 years and works with the Ministry of Health and five regional referral hospitals.

    • In Ethiopia, we launched the Mekelle Medical Education Collaboration (MMEC) as a joint initiative between the College of Health Science at Mekelle University and WFF. In 2016, WFF created Ethiopia's first sub-specialty training program in Urogynecology as a joint venture with Mekelle University, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, and St. Paul Millennium Medical School.

    3. WFF is at the beginning stage of implementing an outcomes evaluation process that combines existing client data with community surveys and in-depth interviews to evaluate how fistula treatment and reintegration training impact clients' lives since returning to their communities.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    In addition to our three strategies above, WFF's capabilities include continuing to diversify our revenue sources through strategic grant seeking, individual donor programs, annual giving campaigns, and major donor cultivation. We continue to expand our Board of Directors as they deepen their commitment to our mission. WFF raises 100% of revenues from private donations and nearly 75% from individuals; Program costs represent Eighty-seven percent of our expenses (2014 Audit).
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    WFF will track progress and the success of our services through consistent monitoring and quarterly reports provided to WFF's Executive Director. These reports include client/survivor outputs data on surgical success, graduation from reintegration education and prevention training programs.

    WFF additionally seeks to fund new client research that tracks patient outcomes by combining existing client data with community surveys and in-depth interviews to evaluate how fistula treatment and reintegration training impact clients' lives since returning to their communities.
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    1. In 2012, WFF opened a new fistula hospital, the Danja Fistula Center (DFC) in Danja, Niger, with our operational partner, SIM, which has completed 718 surgeries to date and reintegrated 349 clients to date.
    2. In 2013, WFF opened the Women's Empowerment Center in Uganda which has graduated 335 clients to date.
    3. Also in 2013, WFF launched the Mekelle Medical Education Collaboration (MMEC) at Mekelle University in Ethiopia to train more medical students and doctors which has educated 332 students and medical professionals to date.

    DFC offers a comprehensive range of services to women suffering from obstetric fistulas: life-changing surgery, individualized recovery plans and rehabilitation and literacy education and vocational training.

    WFF began implementing a new three year Strategic Plan on January 1st, 2016. We will extend the plan to five years and address expansion in the areas of countries, services and potentially mission.

service areas


Self-reported by organization


The organization's Blog

Social Media



@Worldwide Fistula Fund





External Reviews

The review section is powered by Great Nonprofits


Financial information is an important part of gauging the short- and long-term health of the organization.

Fiscal year: Jan 01-Dec 31
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.


Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2014, 2014 and 2013
  • Board Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
Get all this now for free
Need the ability to download nonprofit data and more advanced search options? Consider a Premium or Pro Search subscription.


The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.




Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2014, 2014 and 2013
  • Board Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
Need the ability to download nonprofit data and more advanced search options? Consider a Premium or Pro Search subscription.


Soja Orlwoski


I've worked at nonprofit organizations in multiple fields and what these organizations had in common was they provided people opportunities to better their situations. Too often poverty was a factor in their current predicament.

When I first started working at Worldwide Fistula Fund, I did not know what obstetric fistula was. I was horrified when I learned it left women leaking urine or feces continuously from their vagina. Now my goal is to help WFF grow to help more women and address the great injustice of fistula, the consequence of a childbirth gone wrong and no access to quality obstetric care.

Consider that women in sub-Saharan Africa and developing nations in Asia are enduring an average 4 days in labor only to deliver a stillborn baby and then discover they also have a fistula. Many of these women live remotely, far from any health clinic or hospital and they live in poverty. There is no emergency number to call when they realize their baby is stuck. There is no ambulance coming for them. The nearest health facility may be several days' walk from their home over rough terrain. The facility may not have a doctor and is even less likely to have the operating facilities for a C-section which is a common remedy for obstructed labor in developed nations. Watch Video.

The success stories are amazing! When I hear stories of women's lives transformed after surgery, I am so impressed by all they have accomplished. These are strong, smart, capable women. Margaret was brought to a fistula surgeon and supported through recovery by our partner in Uganda, TERREWODE. Margaret's husband left when she developed her fistula which she then lived with for 26 years before her surgery in 2012. Through the WFF funded Women's Empowerment & Economic Self-Reliance Center (WEES) in Soroti, Margaret received reintegration training in cooking and group leadership. With her new skills, in 2013 Margaret returned to her village and started her own catering business. She also created the Abarilela Fistula Solidarity Group (AFSG). Today, Margaret employs two other fistula survivors in her catering business. AFSG now has 17 members (12 survivors) and has referred 35 women for fistula surgery.

This year, I made a personal decision to fund one woman's surgery annually. To me, $40 per month means a few lunches per week. To a woman in sub-Saharan Africa, it means having the surgery that transforms her life of odor, isolation, and despair into a life of hope and opportunity.

I've learned much from WFF's distinguished Board of expert clinicians in Obstetrics, Female Urology, Urogynecology, Physical Therapy and continence care as well as medical devices and innovations.

Our Founder, Lewis Wall, had a dream to build the finest fistula hospital in Niger. We have and continue to grow services and sites in more countries to give women with fistulas hope for a better life. We also train doctors in Ethiopia for fistula prevention and access to quality care.



Michael Wittek

Bluff Stone Vineyard


GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices. Self-reported by organization



Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?


In order to support nonprofits and gain valuable insight for the sector, GuideStar worked with D5—a five-year initiative to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy—in creating a questionnaire. This section is a voluntary questionnaire that empowers organizations to share information on the demographics of who works in and leads organizations. To protect the identity of individuals, we do not display sexual orientation or disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff. Any values displayed in this section are percentages of the total number of individuals in each category (e.g. 20% of all Board members for X organization are female).

Race & Ethnicity