Walk in her shoes
Imagine you are a twenty-five year old woman living in a small rural town in Oromia, eastern Ethiopia. Here, the land is characterised by rugged mountain ranges and plunging gorges, hampering access to essential healthcare services. As an expecting mother, you would have difficulty finding help from medical professionals.
Five per cent of women globally will experience an obstructed labour. If you are a woman who endures this agonising labour for days without relief or assistance, more often than not, your baby will die and you will be left with an obstetric fistula. This terrible internal injury is a product of poverty – a lack of access to medical care. It leaves some of the world’s most marginalised women with terrible physical and mental trauma.
What should be a joyous event turns into a nightmare. It is a “devastating catastrophe that nobody knows about,” as put by Dr Catherine Hamlin.
Obstetric fistula is an entirely preventable condition, if you have a midwife by your side.
A miracle in the making
Now imagine your name is Shukria and you live within walking distance of Kurfa Chele, one of the locations of the 48 Hamlin Midwifery Clinics across Ethiopia. Here, two highly skilled Hamlin midwives, Gini and Hayat, receive you one morning. They had previously informed you of the early signs of labour during your prenatal care, so you know to make your way to the clinic. You are at ease as midwife Gini is a member of your community and you take her guidance, preparing in the delivery room that was renovated by Hamlin.
Gini has been caring for mothers at the Kurfa Chele clinic for nearly two years. She is a graduate of the Hamlin College of Midwives, which was established in 2007. Dr Catherine Hamlin knew that in order to realise her dream of eradicating obstetric fistula, prevention would be key. A midwife for every woman would mean potential problems being identified early and a fistula avoided.
A midwife in every village
Every Hamlin midwife undergoes the four-year Bachelor of Science degree in Midwifery, a model of excellence that matches the stringent standards of the International Confederation of Midwives. Each student is on a full Hamlin scholarship, funded by our generous donors, and commits to working as a Hamlin midwife for a minimum of four years in areas of need.
There are 145 Hamlin midwifery graduates creating a tangible impact in health clinics across the country. Wherever there is a Hamlin midwife, fistula incidence drops to near zero in surrounding villages.
Our graduates are highly knowledgeable and skilled midwives who can care for their patients in remote postings with confidence. As midwife Gini reflects: “Our quality midwifery service in rural clinics is becoming well known. These days many mothers like Shukria… prefer to deliver here with our professional assistance. In this way, we not only prevent fistula but also minimise the risk of maternal death.”
Christmas Appeal 2018
$100 can provide specialised postgraduate training on emergency obstetrics for one Hamlin midwife
$200 can cover the cost to recruit a student from a remote community to become a Hamlin midwife
$780 can stock a Hamlin midwifery clinic with medical supplies for one year
This year alone, Hamlin midwives safely delivered 23,377 babies and provided antenatal and postnatal care to over 50,000 women in Ethiopia. Among these patients was a woman named Shukria.
On October 10 2018, Shukria welcomed a baby girl into the world.