We were touched and appalled by the sadness of our first fistula patient: a beautiful young woman in urine-soaked ragged clothes, sitting alone in our outpatients department away from the other waiting patients. We knew she was more in need than any of the others. She had been through a long labour of five days with only the village women to help. And so we saw the first of many fistula sufferers.

– Dr Catherine Hamlin

Dr Catherine Hamlin AC

The Catherine Hamlin Ferry

This year, a new Sydney Harbour ferry was named the ‘Catherine Hamlin’. Thousands of supporters cast their vote with Transport NSW to recognise Catherine’s lifelong work through this amazing honour. Sydney siders will begin riding on the ferry in 2017.


Read more about the 'Catherine Hamlin' ferry

Transforming maternal care

Catherine and Reg Hamlin travelled to Ethiopia for the first time almost 60 years ago, and initially only planned to stay for three years. On the evening of their arrival in Ethiopia, a fellow gynaecologist told them, “The fistula patients will break your hearts.” And indeed they did.

The Hamlins had never seen an obstetric fistula case before and there was little or no treatment available in Ethiopia.

But, they did something about it.

Catherine and Reg Hamlin refused to turn their backs on the women of Ethiopia. These two surgical pioneers remained in Ethiopia following their initial three-year posting to continue treating the most marginalised women: those who have suffered an obstetric fistula, an internal injury caused by an obstructed childbirth, which leaves them incontinent, humiliated and lingering with a horrible odour, causing social isolation and shame.

They went about dramatically transforming the maternal healthcare landscape for the women of Ethiopia.

Dr Catherine Hamlin AC
Dr Catherine Hamlin AC

The Hamlin dream

My dream is to eradicate obstetric fistula from Ethiopia. I won’t do this in my lifetime, but you can in yours.

– Dr Catherine Hamlin

A Lifetime of Caring

We believe in a world where all women are able to deliver their babies safely and where childbirth injuries are a thing of the past.