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20 years of Desta Mender

This year marks 20 years since Catherine established Desta Mender, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’s Rehabilitation and Reintegration Centre, where thousands of survivors of obstetric fistula have received free physiotherapy, counselling, long-term medical care and vocational training.

These 20 years of compassionate care were only made possible by funding from generous donors and supporters.


As we look to the next 20 years, we are proud to know more women will be empowered to live with choice and autonomy, through exciting projects such as Hamlin’s Women’s Empowerment Program. Here, women who would otherwise struggle to make an income will receive three months of training in leadership and small-business. Watch the video by clicking the icon on the right to learn
more about this inspiring program.

“I stayed with fistula for ten years.”- Mulu Girma*, Hamlin Women’s Empowerment Program Trainee.

Mulu Desta Mender | Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation (USA) | Working to eradicate obstetric fistula. Forever.


“We are not able to stand and talk with people. We don’t go to church like normal people. We don’t go to the marketplace. I used to live in much suffering.” “When we were invited for this training, I am so happy. I want to open a small inn in my village and sell food” says Mulu.


The Women’s Empowerment Program was established in 2021 to create a complete healing and empowerment process for women with child-birth injuries.


So far, 425 women have benefited from the program and by the end of 2022 we are expecting another 240 women to have completed the program. The Women’s Empowerment Program will continue to expand and enrol many more women in the years to come, ensuring they
are able to live with choice, independence and confidence.

Women Empowerment13 | Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation (USA) | Working to eradicate obstetric fistula. Forever.

You can support these women by purchasing a Gift from the Heart. Each card represents one way you can change a woman's life. Gifts from the Heart are available as e-cards. Explore the range.

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All rights reserved 2020 Catherine Hamlin Foundation (R) (ABN58159647499)
Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation is fiscally sponsored by KBFUS (EIN582277856) and KBF Canada (RCO769784893RR0001)

Photography credits to Cameron Bloom, Nigel Brennan, Mary F. Calvert, Kate Geraghty, Amber Hooper, Joni Kabana, Johannes Remling and Martha Tadesse.

Patient names and images have been changed to protect the identities of those we help.