Every day the passionate staff at Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia welcome and treat patients who have suffered an obstetric fistula. Nothing shows the impact of our work better than the stories of these women who have had their dignity and health restored because of the support you give and the work we do to end fistula.
Ruziya was born and raised in a remote village in East Ethiopia. Her family were farmers and Ruziya spent her childhood helping to look after their goats.
Ruziya got married quite young and soon after fell pregnant – she and her family were overjoyed.
Like many Ethiopian women, Ruziya didn’t know about the importance of visiting a health facility during her pregnancy, nor did she have access to healthcare. She continued to spend each day at work and prepared to have a home delivery like so many before her.
A mother’s nightmare
However, when Ruziya’s labour started, her worst nightmare began.
One day of painful labour passed, then another – there was no sign of her baby. Finally after three days of unrelenting labour, her worried family made the decision to take her to the closest health centre. With no health facility in her village, they had to walk many hours to get help.
Given the severity of her condition, Ruziya was immediately transferred to a government hospital to receive more specialised care. By this stage she was exhausted and disoriented.
Ruziya was taken into surgery at the government hospital. Tragically, she gave birth to a dead baby. Her heart sank.
She was grief stricken but then shocked to find urine running down her legs, uncontrollably. During her ordeal she had suffered an obstetric fistula injury which left her permanently incontinent.
“I was unaware of what had been done to me and what had happened until I wake up after two days. I asked my mother lots of questions what happened, where is my baby and where am I lying. She calmed me down and told me everything.” – Ruziya
The hospital by the river
Luckily, a nurse at the government hospital informed Ruziya about a place that treats this debilitating childbirth injury.
“When I noticed I am unable to control my urine I cried thoroughly, lying on a soaked bed sheet. It is only when the nurses told me about the possible cure at the Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa that I started to hope for a cure.” – Ruziya
Ruziya spent six months back at her mother’s home preparing for her journey to the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital.
The day came and Ruziya arrived at the hospital by the river, accompanied by her brother. For the first time in months, she felt like she belonged. Hamlin staff welcomed Ruziya with love and kindness. Looking around the lush gardens of the hospital, she saw other women with the same injury as her. Ruziya was no longer alone.
Ruziya had a severe fistula injury. Because of the extensive damage, she required three seperate operations.
Four months ago, she received her final surgery. Ruziya is now cured and completely dry!
Ruziya reflects on her time spent in her village before coming to Hamlin…
“In all those days of incontinence I never gave up hope. No one in the village know I have fistula, I dressed washed and perfumed wears use rough cloths and do small business at the closest market to get income that would help for cure. But this was full of frustration.”– Ruziya
Beyond a fistula sufferer
During her recovery phase, Ruziya was moved to Desta Mender (meaning ‘Joy Village’ in Amharic) – our farm and training centre. Here she underwent rehabilitation sessions and has since been recommended for our reintegration programme.
Ruziya was individually assessed by Hamlin staff and is currently learning income-generating life skills, which will empower and enable her to leave Hamlin with hope, dignity and independence. To read more about the rehabilitation and reintegration programme at Desta Mender click here.
“Thank you to Dr Fekade’s and his nurses hands I now got completely dry very passionate and eager in changing my future top of the ordinary women of my village. My mother lost big in searching for cure for me until I arrived here at Hamlin where I never paid a single coin for all the service I got. You never get such unconditional love and care even from your own family. I wish long and strong like a steel, life for all of you at Hamlin.” – Ruziya.
Recent photos of Ruziya at Desta Mender
Because of supporters like you, Ruziya now has hope for her future. She is not only cured of her injury, but empowered to go back to her community feeling confident and independent.
To empower another women like Ruziya, please consider making a tax-deductible donation at hamlin.org.au/empower