When I die, this place will go on for many, many years until we have eradicated fistula altogether – until every woman in Ethiopia is assured of a safe delivery and a live baby.Dr Catherine Hamlin
If we ever need proof of the good in humanity, we only need to think of Dr Catherine Hamlin. Catherine was confident that the work she devoted her life to would continue. Her legacy is one of service, compassion and the belief that one person can make a difference. This ethos is at the heart of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’s work to eradicate fistula. Forever.
Since Catherine arrived in Ethiopia in 1959, over 60,000 women have successfully had their obstetric fistula injuries repaired – more than any other facility in the world. Thousands more women have had fistula injuries prevented through Hamlin-supported midwifery clinics, and fistula surgeons from around the world who have trained at Hamlin’s Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital.
As Catherine planned, Hamlin’s hospitals, midwifery clinics, rehabilitation and reintegration center and the Hamlin College of Midwives will continue their excellent work. Today, over 550 Ethiopians are employed by Hamlin. Ethiopian professionals – many trained by Catherine – have for some time been appointed to all major roles at Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia to ensure continuity well into the future.
This strong foundation for the continuation of Catherine’s work after her passing ensures that even more women will be able to access life-changing treatment. An obstetric fistula can usually be repaired with a single life-changing surgery, that can take as little as two hours. Given that some women have suffered with the condition for decades, the transformation that this single operation makes is breathtaking. The operation can cost as little as $700. All patients at Hamlin hospitals are treated free of charge, as most are too poor to pay.
Catherine was confident that fistula could be eradicated from Ethiopia by 2030. It is up to us to continue her life’s work and see this goal come to fruition. If we can eradicate fistula from Ethiopia, we will be making major inroads towards its eradication globally. The work of the Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation is only possible thanks to the thousands of supporters who give so generously to this cause.
It is our hope that others will join us in our efforts to finally eradicate this debilitating but treatable condition. It would be a fitting tribute to a life of love and service.