We exist to make sure women who have survived the heart-breaking and preventable childbirth injury, obstetric fistula, can live full, happy and healthy lives. Help us find the hidden women of Ethiopia and support them on their journey to a new beginning. Click here to donate by JUNE 30.
There are still an estimated 31,000 women living with devastating obstetric fistula injuries in Ethiopia. With 80% of the population in these areas having little or no access to quality health care, an additional 3,000 women continue to suffer fistula injuries every year. These injuries leave them trapped in a life of pain, shame and isolation.
Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’s immediate priority is to find and treat all existing and new cases, that’s why our Patient Identification Program is so important. Hamlin’s Patient Identification Program is focused on finding, treating and caring for these women so it can: Secure women’s health and wellbeing, help women regain their roles in their families and communities, increase national awareness of obstetric fistula and educate people on how to seek treatment.
We invite you to WATCH and SCROLL through the journey to a woman’s new beginning…
Locating women in remote areas
Hamlin Patient Identification Officers like Mohammed travel hundreds of kilometres every week to find women living with untreated fistula injuries, as part of Hamlin’s Patient Identification Program.
They visit remote communities, that are strategically selected, to teach local health officers about obstetric fistula and how to identify it.
Educating and raising awareness
Health officers share information with the community, raising awareness of available treatment in small gatherings at churches, mosques and markets.
They then go from door-to-door, often travelling on foot for kilometres to find and identify women living with obstetric fistula. They carry and spread hope around the country.
Connecting women to treatment
Once they identify a fistula, they often need to convince women to travel to their nearest Hamlin fistula hospital – which is not always easy. Women who have been suffering for decades don’t believe that a cure is possible.
Once women feel ready, health officers arrange free transport and accommodation and take them to the nearest Hamlin fistula hospital for vital treatment and loving care.
For many women this will be the longest, and most important journey, they will ever make.
Treating a woman's fistula injury
Hamlin fistula surgeons like Dr Leta treat each woman with skill, respect and care - repairing injuries and restoring lives.
Some injuries can be repaired with a single surgery. Others require more complex treatment – multiple surgeries, comprehensive care and rehabilitation.
Dr Leta has been working at Hamlin’s Harar Fistula Hospital since September 2020 and has restored health and dignity to over 70 women in that time.
Healing her body and mind
Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia takes a holistic approach to care. Health professionals treat and heal each woman’s physical, psychological and emotional scars through world-class surgical techniques, extensive rehabilitation and loving care.
Healing the mind is just as important as healing the body. Each woman receives holistic care, including treatment, rehabilitation and training to prepare her for a positive beginning to a new life back in her community.
Returning home with hope
For women treated at Hamlin, life can start again. Women leave healed and happy with hope for their future - thanks to the dedication of people like Mohammed and Dr Leta, and the generous support of people like you. Thank you.
Mohammed has travelled hundreds of kilometres to find women hidden with the shame of fistula. As a Hamlin Patient Identification Officer, he has seen first-hand the heart-breaking impact of obstetric fistula; and he knows the challenges of getting treatment.
“Many women living with obstetric fistula are uneducated and can’t express their needs or medical concerns,” Mohammed says. “They are often ostracised from their communities, and have no access to transport, which also prevents them from getting help.”
“For me, those three months with fistula felt like three long years. I have lived between life and death. Hidden from even my own family members and friends.” – Sekina
Sekina has experienced heartbreaking loss and isolation. Thanks to Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’s holistic approach to obstetric fistula treatment, Sekina has also been able to experience the joy of dryness and the dignity of having her health restored. Today, she is ready to rebuild her life with optimism and gratitude.
Dr Leta has been working tirelessly to make Dr Catherine Hamlin’s dream a reality.
During his days as a medical student, Dr Leta’s life was profoundly affected by the mothers he cared for and got to know. Hearing stories of decades of pain and isolation, and witnessing their shame, he knew he had to do something to alleviate their suffering.
Inspired by the work of Drs Reg and Catherine Hamlin, he started working at Hamlin’s Harar Fistula Hospital in September 2020, where he has since performed over 70 life-changing surgeries on women – including Sekina.
We have to eradicate Ethiopia of this awful thing that’s happening to women: suffering, untold suffering in the countryside. I leave this with you to do in the future, to carry on.
– Dr Catherine Hamlin
When you donate to continue Dr Catherine Hamlin‘s work this tax-time, your donation not only supports Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia‘s efforts to eradicate obstetric fistula, your donation can also reduce your taxable income and get you a tax refund. Click ‘read more’ for an explainer on how tax-deductible donations work in Australia.