One operation can repair a fistula. But that’s not the end of the story.

Dr Catherine Hamlin has dedicated nearly 60 years of her life to restoring the lives and dignity of over 50,000 women. She has always believed that treating a fistula patient isn’t just treating a hole in the bladder but rather the whole patient.

Beyond the physical mending of scars and injury, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia provides rehabilitation programs that help recovering fistula sufferers reintegrate into their community. For these women who have been shunned from society, this Hamlin model of care is a critical aspect of rebuilding self-belief and empowering these women to live independently, with dignity and choices.

Every woman who undergoes fistula surgery at one of the six Hamlin hospitals, also receives counselling, physiotherapy and basic literacy and numeracy lessons. However, some women require a lot more support.

With your help, fistula becomes just a small part of a woman’s story.

Rehabilitation and Reintegration

What is Desta Mender?

Opened in 2002, Desta Mender (meaning ‘Joy Village’) is a farm and training facility where longer-term patients are provided with counselling and a skills training program that is individually tailored to each woman.

Training can range from farming skills, child care qualifications or business skills training. In some cases, this also includes start up grants to establish their own business, enabling these women to generate an income and live independently.

It’s time to re-write these women’s stories

Below are the incredible stories of three women, Fetenech, Besemu and Beburuyosh who have used their personalised Hamlin care program to successfully find their independence and rewrite their stories.

Rehabilitation and Reintegration





We believe no woman should suffer the indignity of an obstetric fistula.