From patient to entrepreneur – How you’re changing lives

We believe in a world where all women are able to deliver their baby safely and where childbirth injuries are a thing of the past.

Tragically, this was not Semira’s world.

Semira grew up in the Amhara region, a rural area in Northern Ethiopia. She first became pregnant when she was 17 years old.

It was during this pregnancy that she endured an obstructed labour and was left with an obstetric fistula.

Tragically, as is often the case, Semira’s husband left her. She suffered for four months, leaking her own urine and faeces.

Finally she made the long journey from her small village to our regional hospital in Mekele. She was treated and healed from her physical injuries and healed from her emotional scars.

Semira wants us to know that her life was rebuilt. Renewed, she made it her mission to tell as many women as she could about the importance of going to a health centre with a trained midwife to give birth.

Semira remarried and returned to us when she was seven months pregnant. Her baby was delivered safely by caesarean section.

Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia not only treated Semira and safely delivered her baby boy, but taught her handicraft skills that gave her confidence and unlocked her natural entrepreneurial spirit.

During her hospital stay, Semira sold her handicrafts and managed to save enough money to construct a mud house and install solar panels. As her house is the only one in the village with electricity, she started a business where people pay to watch television and charge their mobile phones.

Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia supported Semira’s business vision and provided mentoring support along the way. She is planning to expand this business and reinvest her revenue into a bakery and bread distribution network.

Semira’s new life is testament to what you, our donors, support.

Not only have we been able to restore her dignity, we’ve been there to support her confidence, her entrepreneurial spirit and have unleashed a business go-getter!

Photo by Mary F. Calvert

More News


  • Two new Board Members join CHFF

    On 26 May 2022, we welcomed two exceptional new Board members to the Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation team. Professor Caroline Homer AO and Greg Morris will bring a wealth of experience in maternal health and not-for-profit leadership to the Board. As we welcome these two new Board members, we sadly farewell Philippa Ellis, who has […]...

  • International Day to End Obstetric Fistula 2022

    On the International Day to Eradicate Obstetric Fistula, and every day, the Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation remains determined to build a fistula-free world for every woman....

  • Nurse and patient

    Celebrating International Nurses Day 2022

    Today is International Nurses Day 2022 and all of us at the Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation are reflecting on the incredible work of Hamlin nurses, and those around the world. During the last couple of years of unprecedented pressure and demand on health care staff, due to the pandemic, the frontline work of nurses has […]...