Ayehu’s story

Ayehu was born and raised in a remote, rural village in Northern Ethiopia. The village consists of a collection of small huts clustered together on bare landscape at the top of a mountain. Access to running water, electricity or transport is an unimaginable luxury.

Life before

On her 17th birthday, Ayehu was given to her husband in an arranged marriage and moved to a similar mountain village not far away. Ayehu and her husband scraped a living working a small area of mountainous farmland. Ayehu was also looking after her son – her only child from her previous two deliveries at home (sadly she lost one child to sickness).

Third time unlucky 

Ayehu became pregnant for the third time. However, unlike the previous two deliveries, this one did not go well. She laboured unsuccessfully at home for two interminable days and was left in a state of exhaustion and semi-consciousness.

Eventually, Ayehu’s family made the decision to take her to the closest medical clinic, a full day’s walk from the village. They carried Ayehu on a homemade stretcher.

Tragically, Ayehu delivered her stillborn baby on the stretcher, on the way to the clinic.

At the clinic, the nurses tended to Ayehu on arrival but the next day when Ayehu awoke, she found herself soaked in urine. She had developed an obstetric fistula from her prolonged obstructed labour.

“As I learned that I am incontinent, one of my legs paralysed as well – I buried my head between my legs and burst into tears. I was totally hopeless” Ayehu explains.

The nurses reassured Ayehu that Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia could provide treatment to cure her. However, Ayehu went back home for three months before making the journey to Hamlin. During that time she was bedbound and unable to move herself without the help of her husband and relatives.

The road to recovery 

Finally, Ayehu travelled to the Hamlin Bahir Dar Fistula Hospital. She spent six hours on horseback just to reach the main road where she could link up with transportation to the hospital.

On arrival at Bahir Dar, caring Hamlin staff gave Ayehu everything she needed. In just one month, she was completely dry again following a successful fistula surgery. As well as surgery, she received physiotherapy for her leg (her leg is recovering well) and education classes. (View Hamlin’s total care approach here).

Happily, Ayehu is now back once more at our hospital in Bahir Dar, pregnant for the first time since her fistula surgery. She is currently waiting to have a safe delivery by caesarean section. Ayehu considers herself one of the lucky ones, as she has been supported by her caring husband throughout all of her sufferings.

“Thanks for bringing back my life.” 

In Ayehu’s own words.

“For me it was something extraordinary. I slept on a clean bed, the delicious meal, the friendly and unconditional care of the staff, the successful surgery… all such services free of charge; this is of God’s kind generosity not of human being. I wish an everlasting life to the staffs and the hospital and express my heartfelt thanks for bringing back my life.”


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