Walking with hope – Asrebeb’s story

You have helped Asrebeb stand on her own two feet

When Asrebeb arrived at Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, she weighed just 22kg. She had been living with a fistula in a dark hut for more than six years, malnourished and in terrible pain.

Asrebeb had an obstructed labour that lasted several days. Realising something was wrong; friends and family carried her on a hand-made stretcher to a distant hospital. Tragically, on the way, Asrebeb gave birth to a stillborn baby.

During the ordeal, Asrebeb had fallen unconscious. When she woke, she realised she was leaking urine and faeces uncontrollably. She had suffered an obstetric fistula injury.

“I didn’t want to live”

Asrebeb lived with her fistula injury for six years. Because of the smell, she was treated like an outcast in her community.

“I used to cry day and night. I didn’t want to eat or drink because I didn’t want to live, and I didn’t want to leak.”

Eventually, a health worker heard about her terrible condition and took her to Hamlin’s Bahir Dar Fistula Hospital. When she arrived, she was unable to walk due to severe muscle contractures. It took months of physiotherapy before she could even straighten her legs.

Due to the severity of her injury she was transferred to the main hospital in Addis Ababa, where she had multiple surgeries. Sadly, Asrebeb is one of the 5% of fistula sufferers who cannot be fully cured. Her health issues are so complex that she lives full-time at Desta Mender, our farm and training centre for long-term patients. This is just thirty minutes from the main hospital, where she can receive specialist medical care when she needs it.

Walking with hope

Last year, Asrebeb was able to throw away her walking sticks and walk without assistance. This was a wonderful day for her and the staff who have grown so fond of her.

“I am in very good health now, doing better and better. I am in a condition that I have never imagined to be.”

Asrebeb loves walking around the gardens at Desta Mender. She helps prepare food, and she likes knitting, embroidery and making paper bead necklaces. She has even started teaching some of the other patients who take part in the rehabilitation program.

“The treatment and improvement I am getting here has transformed my life to be more hopeful. I have started dreaming of the future.”

Obstetric fistula robs a woman of her life. Your donation can give it back.

So far, Dr Catherine Hamlin and her team at Hamlin fistula Ethiopia have restored the health and dignity of over 50,000 Ethiopian women. For most patients, a single fistula operation will fix their injury completely.

More News