A Midwife in Every Village: Realising Catherine’s Dream

When Drs Reg and Catherine Hamlin first arrived in Ethiopia in 1959, they did so with the intention to work as obstetrician-gynaecologists and set up a midwifery school in Addis Ababa on a three-year contract. Upon reaching Ethiopia, Reg and Catherine were introduced to patients suffering from obstetric fistula – a condition they had never seen before. They were determined to care for these women who had been shunned by their communities and dedicated themselves to their cause. Close to half a century later, Catherine and Reg’s initial dream was realised with the opening of the Hamlin College of Midwives.

Opening the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, the world’s first modern fistula hospital, was a huge step in the effort to fight fistula in Ethiopia. In Catherine’s eyes, however, “my work and that of the hospitals is important, but it is more important to prevent fistula in the first instance and our midwives can achieve this. My dream is for there to be a midwife in every village of Ethiopia.” This is what motivated Catherine to open the Hamlin College of Midwives in 2007.

The Hamlin College of Midwives focuses on sustainable health networks. Students at the College are high-achieving students from rural and regional Ethiopia. They complete a four-year BSc degree, after which they are assigned to regional Hamlin-supported midwifery clinic in or near their hometowns.

Catherine’s dream is to have a midwife in every village in Ethiopia. More midwives in regional areas means more women receive medical care during their pregnancies and labour; this care mean that if a complication arises, they can get help before a fistula injury occur. The impact of a Hamlin midwife is remarkable – when a midwife arrives at a clinic, new cases of fistula drop to almost zero in nearby villages.

Since 2007, 170 students have graduated from the Hamlin College of Midwives and are working across over 50 Hamlin-supported midwifery clinics in remote areas of Ethiopia. In the past three years alone, Hamlin midwives have delivered over 60,000 babies!

Every student at the Hamlin College of Midwives is studying on a full scholarship thank to the generosity of our donors. Click here to help support our midwifery students and realise Catherine’s dream of a midwife in every village.

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