They leave us, on dancing feet, with a new dress and hope for the future.

– Dr Catherine Hamlin

Dr Catherine Hamlin dedicated over 60 years of her life to restoring the lives and dignity of over 60,000 Ethiopian women with fistula. She always believed that treating a fistula patient isn’t just treating a hole in the bladder, but rather the whole patient.

That’s why, in 2002, Dr Catherine Hamlin founded Desta Mender (‘Joy Village’), a recovery centre where longer-term fistula patients with more severe injuries can continue to heal. Some women with complex cases may need multiple surgeries and ongoing care. Having suffered trauma and isolation, many cannot return to their communities and few have an income that allows them to live independently.

Rehabilitation and Reintegration

Empowering every woman.

Hamlin’s Rehabilitation and Reintegration Program at Desta Mender is tailored to each woman and offers counselling, literacy and numeracy classes as well as vocational and life skills training. The Hamlin team supports women to find sustainable employment upon reintegration back into their communities. In some cases, this also includes the facilitation of start up grants to establish their own business, enabling these women to generate an income.

The Hamlin Model of Care is a critical aspect of rebuilding self-belief and empowering women to live independently, with dignity and choices. Women like Liya, read her story below.

From darkness to light

“I would cry day and night and sometimes wish to die rather than live in such agony.” – Liya

This was Liya’s life two years ago.

Following surgery at Hamlin’s Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, Liya completed vocational training at Desta Mender. With help from Hamlin’s reintegration team, she is now working towards opening her own shop.


Read more

Rehabilitation and Reintegration
Rehabilitation and Reintegration

Brave and beautiful wraps

Last year, 673 women completed skills training and handicraft education at Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia. One of the products made by patients are beautiful chunky-knit wraps, knitted from raw Ethiopian cotton.

You can purchase a patient-made wrap at The Hamlin Shop, and support both the patient who made it and the work of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia!


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Juniper Café at Desta Mender

Surrounded by the beautiful gardens of Desta Mender, the Juniper Café  is the ideal place to escape for coffee or lunch. It is a not-for-profit café and hospitality training program for recovering patients.

100% of the profits support the Rehabilitation and Reintegration program and the Hamlin Gift Shop in Juniper Café showcases crafts made by these women.

Rehabilitation and Reintegration

Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation has one purpose and one purpose only: eradicating fistula. Forever.