Two remarkable women
It was the meeting of two Australian women who have inspired thousands with their grace, humility and compassion for marginalised people. On 18 February 2015, Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark visited the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital where she met with Dr Catherine Hamlin.
At the famed Hospital by the River, the Princess was given a tour of the main ward where she learnt about the life-changing work conducted across Ethiopia by Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia. Princess Mary met with patients and staff and was moved by the stories of patients whose dignity had been restored thanks to Catherine and her team.
It was a special day as the Princess was able to visit a patient… and her baby who had just been born! Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia provides free caesarean surgeries for past fistula patients. Many women have returned to the hospital to give birth safely.
Tea and tokens of admiration
Princess Mary then joined Catherine for tea in her cottage on the hospital grounds. They shared stories over Ethiopian tea and homemade biscuits, as they exchanged gifts as tokens of their shared admiration. Catherine gave the Princess necklaces and baskets handmade by the patients and Princess Mary gifted Catherine with beautiful Danish teacups.
Reflecting on her moving visit, Princess Mary said: “I have met so many angels here in Ethiopia and one of them is 91-year-old Dr Catherine Hamlin. She has done so much for the women of Ethiopia and it was a great experience to meet and talk to her today.”
Feven Haddis, the then Deputy CEO of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, noted: “we were delighted the Princess was able to shine a light on the work of Dr Catherine Hamlin and her team here in Ethiopia. Princess Mary was very knowledgeable about obstetric fistula and the challenges we have ahead of us to eradicate this terrible childbirth injury.”
Two dedicated philanthropists
The Princess was in Ethiopia for an official three-day humanitarian visit which also saw her visit the Gambella refugee camp. She is involved in philanthropic work both in Denmark and internationally. In Denmark, Princess Mary founded the Mary Foundation in 2007, which focuses on social isolation and domestic violence. She is a patron of the United Nations Population Fund, which targets reproductive and sexual health.
Ethiopia continues to be a place dear to Princess Mary; she visited the country again in March 2019.
Both Princess Mary and Dr Catherine Hamlin are famed for their relatability and compassion for others. Together, they have been able to shine a light on the plight of women suffering with obstetric fistula injuries.
Thank you both for what you do!
Click here to see how you can help eradicate fistula. Forever.