At Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, it is not just about repairing a childbirth injury, but restoring dignity. Upon arrival at a Hamlin hospital, patients are embraced with tender and loving care. They are given nutritious food, a handmade woven blanket, and clean clothing. A customized program is made for each woman that includes nutrition, physical therapy, counseling and rehabilitation.
Due to the stigma associated with obstetric fistula, many women cannot return to their communities and few have an income that allows them to live independently. That’s why Dr. Hamlin founded Desta Mender (‘Joy Village’) in 2002 as a recovery center where long-term fistula patients with severe injuries can continue to heal.
Hamlin’s Rehabilitation and Reintegration Program at Desta Mender provides a safe place for women who have been shunned by their communities due to fistula. The program offers counseling, literacy and numeracy classes. Additional programs for vocational and life skills training help women find sustainable employment or to establish their own small businesses.
Last year alone, 1,502 women enrolled in life skills and training courses, and 760 women graduated from education courses.
“My plan is to go back to my village and open a small merchandising shop which I will be running according to the business skills I acquired here at Desta Mender. I am more inspired now to become successful in the business and lead a happy, independent life.”Liya