We caught up with long-standing Hamlin supporter and regular giver Sam about why she supports the Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation through regular donations. Thank you to Sam and to all of our Hamlin regular givers who are the backbone of our organisation, helping to keep the doors of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’s hospitals open.
Every month your donations have a direct impact on increasing the reach of our work to help all Ethiopian women in need. One of the other things your monthly gift does is give Hamlin the ability to plan ahead. It’s now up to us to ensure Dr Catherine Hamlin’s dream of eradicating fistula forever becomes a reality. Thank you to our regular givers for joining us in the fight against obstetric fistula.
Tell us a bit about yourself!
My name is Sam, I’m a midwife and maternal child health nurse. I’ve been working in the community for most of my career. I love travelling and seeing new places, meeting new people, hiking and being out in nature. I’m also a keen reader and love knitting and generally making things!
How did you first hear about Dr Catherine Hamlin and Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation?
I first heard about Dr Catherine Hamlin and the Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation when I was studying midwifery. I think just about every Australian midwife has heard of the Hamlin fistula hospitals: it’s such an inspirational story! I read the book ‘The Hospital By the River’ and dreamed of visiting one day.
What inspired you to get involved?
I felt so passionate to assist in any way I could to see the rates of fistula fall. Not only that, but to support the training of midwives so that fistula wouldn’t occur in the first place.
What was it like to travel to Ethiopia in 2019 and see the work first-hand?
Well that was a dream come true! The trip was a wonderful combination of sightseeing in beautiful Ethiopia and visiting various Hamlin sites. We went to “the hospital by the river” (Hamlin’s Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital) in Addis Ababa and had the privilege of meeting Dr Catherine Hamlin and Mamitu Gashe. We actually went to Catherine’s home, sat in her lounge room and spent time talking with her and Mamitu. We were really blessed to have that experience.
The other two stand out moments for me were visiting a rural Hamlin-supported midwifery clinic and the Hamlin College of Midwives. The rural clinic was basic in its set up. Two Hamlin Midwives staff it day and night and they service a large community. We were told they could walk up to four hours one way to do postnatal home visits. I was so inspired by these frontline midwives, saving mothers and babies every day and identifying those at risk of fistula, arranging for them to be taken to a Hamlin fistula hospital for care.
Visiting the Hamlin College of Midwives blew me away. Hamlin has this incredible scheme offering full scholarships to women to gain their four-year midwifery degree, with the agreement that they will return to their village to work for four years. The degree is an internationally-recognised qualification. I just felt so proud to be able to do my part to support this program.
How would you describe Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation and Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia to someone who has never heard of us?
Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation supports Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’s work in Ethiopia with women suffering with an obstetric fistula. They offer free care including finding women in need of surgery, their entire hospital stay, the surgery itself and rehabilitation. Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia give women back their lives and restore them back to their families and communities with such loving care and kindness, including a new dress to return home in. The foundation also trains midwives, and has six regional hospitals and many rural Hamlin-supported midwifery clinics. Their aim is to eradicate fistula in Ethiopia. I would also add that the work of the foundation is ethical and sustainable and is run for Ethiopians by Ethiopians. Oh and I haven’t mentioned Desta Mender (Hamlin’s Rehabilitation and Reintegration Centre), where women needing longer term care and rehabilitation can learn small business skills, literacy and numeracy while they wait for full recovery!
What is your hope for Ethiopian women?
I share Dr Catherine Hamlin’s dream to see fistula eradicated in Ethiopia, for fistula to be a thing of the past in the way it is here in Australia. I would love to see Ethiopian women readily able to access midwifery care and safe birth.
What inspired you to become a regular giver?
I became a Hamlin regular giver because I wanted to be a part of this amazing work and to be able to contribute to seeing this dream come true.
What would you say to a supporter thinking about becoming a regular giver? What do you feel is the biggest benefit of being a regular giver?
If you are thinking about giving monthly, I would say go ahead and do it! It’s so easy. I thought of a sum that achieved a particular goal and then arranged a direct debit. The biggest benefit for me is knowing that my support gives women their lives back, restoring their dignity and their place in society, giving them a chance to be a mother again and having a second chance at a life that had once felt lost to them. I also love knowing my financial support is going towards training highly skilled, compassionate midwives. On my trip with Hamlin to Ethiopia in 2019, I saw up close the amazing, heroic work that they do.
You too can become a regular giver like Sam! With a $100 monthly donation, you could fund a fistula repair operation within a year – learn more by clicking here.