More than just sympathy

Sometimes the suffering and damage caused by obstetric fistula is so great that even after successful surgery, patients can’t immediately return to their homes. Instead they go to Desta Mender, a rehabilitation centre that provides a range of treatment and training.

The women who go there will meet Tekiya. Today she is a staff member working in the diary farm. She has previously worked at Desta Mender’s Juniper Café and also the vegetable farm.

A casual observer would simply think she is a smiling, efficient member of staff. One of the more than 550 local staff, servicing six hospitals, this rehabilitation centre and the Hamlin College of Midwives.

But Tekiya’s own painful journey means she can show more than sympathy to the many women who come through the centre.

She was just 14 when she became pregnant. There was no clinic nearby so like 70% of births in Ethiopia there was no doctor or midwife to assist. After two days of excruciating labour, she was eventually taken to a government hospital. After four days labour her baby was stillborn.

The long labour has severely damaged her, she suffered a double obstetric fistula and her legs were swollen which made her unable to walk. After two weeks at the hospital she was brought back home.

Her husband abandoned her, his family stigmatised her and even stopped feeding her. In desperation she went back to her family, her father shunned her but her mother struggled to find Tekiya help.

From surviving to thriving

After a long a painful search for help, Tekiya finally found her way to a Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia hospital. She underwent two successful surgeries over two years.

In 2011 , Tekiya received diversion surgery that successfully cured her fistula. But she is in need of ongoing treatment.

Seven years later Tekiya has been a regular fixture at Desta Mender. She has learned two additional languages, new business skills and earns a regular salary. She recalls when she met Dr Catherine Hamlin.

“I got down on my knees and kissed her, I did not know her language so this was all I could do to express my gratitude,” she said.

Tekiya said she wished she could do something to add years to Dr Hamlin’s life so she could go on treating women like herself.

Dr Hamlin herself admits she is not going to live to see her dream of eradicating fistula in Ethiopia. But due to a movement of generous donors here in Australia, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia has now treated almost 55,000 women.

Join the movement, together we can eradicate fistula. Forever.

Please make a donation before June 30. Your generous support will not only allow women like Tekiya to live a fistula free life, but equip her with life-skills so that she can thrive.

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