In the two months since her passing, Dr Catherine Hamlin’s work – its impact and her legacy – has been discussed at length by her supporters, humanitarians and academics. In two separate podcasts, from the BBC and the ABC, Catherine’s story and the plight of fistula sufferers have been highlighted.
Remembering a remarkable woman
The Last Word is a program on BBC Radio 4 which reflects on the life stories of notable people who have recently died. Earlier in May, presenter Matthew Bannister discussed Catherine’s story with journalist Julia Langford. Julia reflected on Catherine as “an extraordinary obstetrician and a very remarkable woman” who “exuded a sense of pale power.”
The Last Word episode also featured Catherine’s interviews with Oprah Winfrey. In her 2004 interview with Oprah, Catherine responded to a question on how she funded her work with her typical self-deprecation: “We treat them all freely because they have nothing, they are poor… we beg. My husband used to say ‘we’re professional beggars.'”
The program, available to listen to as a podcast here, also highlighted the lives of actor Irrfan Khan, anti-apartheid activist Denis Goldberg and athlete Anne Sayer.
Catherine’s story was featured on ABC Radio National‘s The Science Show. The episode features a repeat broadcast of a Science Show program from 2000 which documents journalist Pauline Newman’s week-long visit to the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital. Science Show presenter Robyn Williams reflected on Catherine as “the girl from Ryde, educated at Mittagong and Sydney University, who changed the world and created such happiness and liberation.”
Continuing Catherine’s work
As Matthew and Julia discussed on the Last Word, Catherine’s work will continue until obstetric fistula is eradicated from Ethiopia. With six hospitals, one rehabilitation and reintegration centre, the Hamlin College of Midwives, over 50 Hamlin-support midwifery clinics and 550 Ethiopian members of staff, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia is well positioned to continue treating women with the best-practice care they need. Catherine predicted that Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia would “go on for many, many years until we have eradicated fistula altogether – until every woman in Ethiopia is assured of a safe delivery and a live baby.”
Catherine knew that the effort to eradicate fistula would be a multigenerational one – vitally, though, she knew that it was an achievable effort. She reflected on her legacy, remarking that “My dream is to eradicate obstetric fistula from Ethiopia. I won’t achieve this in my lifetime, but you can in yours.”
Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia is committed to continuing Catherine’s life’s work. Click here to learn about the new Patient Identification Program which is helping us reach more women in remote Ethiopia.