It was 19 years ago when Kore suffered an obstructed labour that lasted an agonising two days, but her story is unlike many other fistula survivors. Today she is the proud mother of a beautiful 19-year-old son and runs her own small coffee business to support her family.
Like many Ethiopian women, Kore gave birth at home all those years ago. Despite enduring an obstructed labour, she was lucky – her baby was alive and she hadn’t immediately suffered an obstetric fistula. Kore eventually returned to work, but the consequences of her labour would have a lasting effect.
It wasn’t until Kore was 37 years old – more than 14 years after giving birth – that she suffered the full effects of her unrelieved prolonged obstructed labour. Many years of hard, manual labour had taken its toll on her weakened bladder, which caused a fistula and left Kore incontinent.
“I felt ashamed of telling what happened to me to anyone and kept silence for three years without looking for cure. Because I am a divorced woman I used to work small trading to support myself and my son but the fistula had stopped it and left us dependent on family,” Kore recalls.
The road to recovery
Unable to work and without a source of income, Kore went in search of a cure for her fistula. This was when she heard about the work of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia and within a couple of years, Kore was back home, completely cured and running her own business.
Although most fistula injuries can be repaired with a single surgery that can take less than an hour, the many years of manual labour had caused significant damage to Kore’s bladder. This meant that she required a more complex and difficult procedure, and fortunately, the surgery was a success.
Kore knew she couldn’t return to work as a labourer but as the sole provider for her son she needed to find an alternative working arrangement. Whilst she continued to recover from her surgery, Kore moved to Desta Mender – Hamlin’s rehabilitation and training facility for longer-term patients – where she was able to learn new skills that would prepare her for life once she returned home again.
Each patient at Desta Mender receives an individually tailored rehabilitation and reintegration program which includes counselling, physiotherapy, and skills training such as child-care qualifications, business management and farming skills. It was these skills that enabled Kore to later run her own business.
Towards happiness and hope
Kore received a small grant facilitated by the Hamlin team to open her coffee house and was able to secure a business shade at a busy market from the local government.
Her coffee house is thriving, and Kore has since hired one of her relatives, a young woman, to assist her.
“For myself and my son the coffee house is our only source of income. It is this income that covers costs for food, education payment and other social life costs” said Kore.
“What a hospital Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia is. Because of your free and holistic support I got cured from the traumatic injury and became a business owner having my own income to cover my living cost. Stay blessed and I wish long and healthy life for Emaye (Dr. Catherine) and all the staff.”
Just recently, Kore was also able to purchase a cow for her family to look after, generating a small income for them. Her coffee house is a real success, and she has begun serving traditional Ethiopian food as well.
To empower a past patient like Kore, please consider donating to support Hamlin’s Rehabilitation and Reintegration program.