Sydney businesswoman and philanthropist, Sonia Fenton, visited The Hospital By The River for the first time in 2013. During her visit, she met with Dr Hamlin, staff and patients. She was so touched by the plight of the patients and impressed by the work being done, that she made a very significant gift to the Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation.
Sonia’s gift was funded through the sale of her apartment in Sydney.
Five years on, Sonia travelled to Ethiopia with her niece Kate Cameron, to catch up with Dr Hamlin and see first hand what has been achieved through her generosity.
Part of Sonia’s gift was allocated to the Hamlin College of Midwives, to fund ten midwifery scholarships. The students Sonia supported attended the College for four years, from 2014 through 2018. Sonia met the graduating students in person and she was delighted to take part in their graduation ceremony as an honoured guest of the College. Sonia was able to shake the students by the hand and generously gifted each graduate with a new stethoscope, nail clippers, a Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation Tote bag and a souvenir koala.
“It was so special for me to meet these new midwives, I felt quite emotional,” said Sonia. “They have all worked diligently over the past four years, receiving the best possible education in midwifery. It was terrific to hear how they have studied hard and made the most of this opportunity. And now, they are going to put that training into practice in rural clinics. I was impressed with the maturity of these young women. They are all so articulate, so confident. They are well equipped to handle the challenges they will face in their new roles.”
Sonia went on to say that she was particularly impressed with every graduate “It’s clear that each of the girls were inspired and shared a passion and commitment. Twenty girls commenced in 2014 and 20 finished in 2018. What a pity it would have been if these exceptional girls had not been able to go to College. It is gratifying to know that they now have a Bachelor’s degree, and are on their way to rewarding and meaningful midwifery careers.”
In addition to midwifery scholarships, Sonia has supported Hamlin through funding for rural midwifery clinics. Each clinic must be fitted out and equipped before our midwives can commence their work. With Sonia’s help, essential infrastructure and equipment has been installed in several clinics.
With many clinics in quite remote areas, it is crucial to have reliable access to water and electricity. In fact, these are some of the biggest challenges in providing quality care in the countryside. Some clinics were in need of substantial refurbishment to make sure that they are suitable for our midwives to do their work.
We are grateful to Sonia for her generosity. With Sonia’s help, many thousands of Ethiopian women will receive the care they need in the years to come.