Empowering former fistula patients and their communities

Tigret and participants

Dr Catherine Hamlin believed every woman deserved care, respect and help to heal from the emotional and physical trauma of obstetric fistula.

Her transformative Hamlin Model of Care goes beyond surgery – it seeks to restore a woman’s self-worth, dignity and independence.

Empowering women beyond treatment

The groundbreaking new Women’s Empowerment Program based at Hamlin’s Desta Mender rehabilitation centre provides former fistula patients in need of income support with vital vocational skills and confidence to support themselves, their families and communities.  

Women learning poultry farming

Under the guidance of skilled instructors, this three-month residency provides women with a range of learning opportunities, including leadership and communications training, as well as small-business guidance and vocational training. Many women start their own businesses upon graduation.

From fistula patient to pottery master

Aselef was one of the first ‘recruits’ for the Women’s Empowerment Program – and the first of many inspiring success stories. 

Aselef and her pottery

After receiving surgery to repair her fistula injury a few years ago, Aselef returned to her community. But like many fistula patients, she never went to school and had no way of earning an income to support her two daughters.

Aselef was invited to attend the Women’s Empowerment Program where she developed her pottery skills using more modern techniques. She also received business skills training. She returned to her community empowered with a new way of supporting herself and her family – selling pottery goods. 

Since its inception, 425 women have benefited from this program. Another 210 women are expected to join in 2023. 

Treating the whole woman

Tigist Aman, Hamlin’s Rehabilitation & Reintegration Manager, believes the Women’s Empowerment Program complements the rehabilitation work that is already taking place at Desta Mender.

Tigist and participants

“The Women’s Empowerment Program was established to create a complete healing process for women with fistula after much-needed medical procedures at our fistula hospital.

At Desta Mender, we ensure their emotional wellbeing and their ability to become self-sufficient financially and help them to become active contributing members of their societies.

Through their training, I see physically and psychologically injured women become confident, empowered and ready to rejoin their home communities,” she says.

Every woman should feel empowered

Every woman deserves to feel empowered and lead a full and meaningful life.

Women learning farming

With your support, three intakes of 70 women – 210 in total – will attend the life-changing Women’s Empowerment Program this year.

This year, we need to raise $202,440 by 31 March to help more women rebuild their lives after the shame and isolation of obstetric fistula. Will you consider supporting us with a donation to help a woman write the next chapter of her life? Click here to make your gift.

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