Each year the Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation takes two groups of supporters to Ethiopia (Hamlin Ethiopian Adventure), a trip to see the life-changing work of Dr Catherine Hamlin and her team. To come on the trip each year, supporters sign up to raise funds and awareness for the work being done in Ethiopia, and spread the news of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia.
Elizabeth signed up in 2018 for the November adventure after years of hearing about the trip and the foundation. Her decision to join the trip was just the beginning of her Ethiopian adventure.
“I have been following the work of Doctor Catherine Hamlin for many years now. I read her book Hospital by the River and shared that with friends and family, I have been wanting to do this trip for a long time, however until now the time just wasn’t right in terms of family. My youngest is now 5 and when the trip was being advertised near the end of last year, I just couldn’t kick the feeling that I needed to go this year and make a bigger impact. I feel strongly about showing my children that you can set big goals and achieve them with small steps along the way and that you can talk yourself into or out of anything, so if it is a good thing that effects many for the better, than do it!”
Like so many other supporters, Elizabeth feels a personal connection to the women of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia. A mother of four, her experience of childbirth was deeply impacted through the medical care she has received, something women in Ethiopia miss due to the lack of maternal healthcare available.
“Many years ago, I was faced with a life changing and also devastating experience. My first child Jayden Peter was stillborn. My body had not functioned properly enough to keep him healthy and alive. I was faced with the fact that I would be induced into labour and birth our baby that we knew had just passed away. On top of that, a few days later while still in hospital extremely ill, I was diagnosed with a life-altering illness that I had no idea existed and it would change the way I could have children in the future, if at all. Jayden saved my life. I now have 3 more miracle children and without the help of experienced doctors as well as accessible health care, this would absolutely not have been possible.
While I recognise that my story is not the same as the beautiful women of Ethiopia, nor have I suffered the extreme horrors and tragedy they have, my heart and my soul feels incredible empathy for their situation. It is because of this that I cannot sit back and do nothing. I will keep talking about, sharing and educating about fistulas and all that the Hamlins have done for these women and their families,” says Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth signed onto the Hamlin Ethiopian Adventure the first thing she did was tell her friends and family. Knowing she had a big fundraising goal ahead of her, she didn’t shy away from telling people about her trip and her upcoming fundraising events.
“In my town one night at a girls night, I told a few amazing women about my trip and that I had done it and registered to go, as well as my goals for training for the 10k run and raising the funds. One friend was so excited about it all that she announced it to everyone at the party! Since then, they have been an incredible support to me. I could not have run the big fundraising events we held without them.”
Through a variety of fundraising events such as musical evenings, auctions, raffles and much more, Elizabeth raised $10 267 which is enough to fund 17 life changing obstetric fistula operations. This means 17 women can have their lives restored and brought back to dignity. An amazing result.
An amazing adventure
In November 2018, Elizabeth had the opportunity to see the work of Dr Catherine Hamlin up close and saw the importance of what Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia is doing.
“I can see that Catherine Hamlin’s work has changed the course of lives and I know exactly what it is to be indebted to a doctor who has saved you. Any work that does such a thing deserves attention and support. It is important to me because I have seen and believe with all my heart that when a woman has access to appropriate healthcare and the ability to have her body function properly, she is empowered and therefore so are all those around her who she comes in contact with.
Dr Catherine Hamlin does just this with her work. She is changing the lives of women, babies and future generations, and this is important to me. I also love that there is a Midwifery College. As someone with a nursing background and with an end goal of becoming a midwife and lactation consultant, I know the difference having a midwife can make, before and during labour and delivery.
To anyone thinking about fundraising or doing an Ethiopian adventure trip I would say, absolutely just do it! Jump in and don’t look back, you may wonder how you will succeed, or if you can, but once you find the reason you are passionate about it, others will feel that too and they WILL be inspired by you. Opportunities will present themselves because of this, and rather than be nervous or afraid, be glad you are a mouthpiece to inform, educate and share stories of healing that happen because of the work of The Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation and those who support them!” – Elizabeth
Our 2019 March and November Hamlin Ethiopian Adventures are now open for registrations.
You can join Team Hamlin in 2019 and experience the trip of a lifetime. 2019 is the 60th Anniversary of Catherine and Reg Hamlin’s arriving in Ethiopia and will be a year of celebration.
Find out more about joining the Hamlin Ethiopian Adventure here.