After establishing their hospital by the river, news of the Hamlins’ obstetric fistula treatment and the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital quickly spread. Women were coming by foot from all over Ethiopia. Catherine and Reg’s Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital was on its way to becoming a major teaching institution in East Africa and the Hamlin Model of Care was becoming renowned. The Hamlins were not simply curing their patients, they were caring for them. Some patients became staff, working as nursing aides, carers and cooks.
Recognition for years of selfless work
As Catherine cared for the most vulnerable women in Ethiopia, her work was gaining recognition internationally. On 26 January 1983, Catherine was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia for her services to gynaecology in developing countries. In 1984, Catherine received the ANZAC Peace Prize awarded by the Returned and Services League (RSL) in Australia, which recognises outstanding efforts by an Australian citizen who has promoted the concept of international understanding and who, in so doing, has contributed to world peace.
In 1987, she received the Gold Medal of Merit, Order of St Gregory the Great. The honour is bestowed upon Roman Catholic men and women (and sometimes in rare cases to non-Catholics) in recognition of their personal service, unusual labours and excellent examples in their communities and their countries. In 2009, Catherine was awarded the Right Livelihood Award – sometimes called the ‘Alternate Nobel Prize’. The following year she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia.
Catherine was always humble about her work, focussing instead on the need to rid the world of the scourge of fistula. She reflected that, “My work and that of the hospitals is important, but it is more important to prevent fistula in the first instance and our midwives can achieve this. My dream is for there to be a midwife in every village of Ethiopia.”
You can help us continue Catherine’s legacy of caring for the most vulnerable women by donating here.