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Mamitu Gashe’s Incredible Story

The fistula patient, the fistula surgeon, the woman

"If you have no leg, you can go with a crutch. If you are blind, there is somebody to help you around. For fistula, this is worse. Family, father, brother, mum, they can’t help... I would be ashamed, because when I got up, there might be a smell, I might be leaking and my clothes soaked... I wanted to be alone.” - Mamitu Gashe

1968

Mamitu Gashe came to the hospital as a patient at the age of 14 with terrible obstetric fistula injuries. She was so grateful for the care she received that she decided to dedicate her life to Dr Catherine and Reg Hamlin’s mission - helping other women with a fistula injury. Catherine and Reg saw something special in Mamitu. She went from mopping floors and comforting her fellow patients, to assisting Catherine and Reg in theatre.

Screen Shot 2020 09 16 at 3.32.41 pm | Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation (USA) | Working to eradicate obstetric fistula. Forever.

1989

Under Reg and Catherine’s skilled guidance and training, Mamitu became one of the most acclaimed fistula surgeons in the world, despite never having had a day’s schooling. In 1989 she won the Gold Medal for surgery from the Royal College of Surgeons in London.

Screen Shot 2020 09 16 at 3.32.50 pm | Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation (USA) | Working to eradicate obstetric fistula. Forever.

2000

Mamitu began travelling to spread the Hamlin Model of Care in obstetric fistula treatment. Over the next few years she visited Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, India and the Mercy Ship ‘Anastasis’ to train surgeons in fistula surgery.

Screen Shot 2020 09 16 at 3.32.56 pm | Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation (USA) | Working to eradicate obstetric fistula. Forever.

Today

Mamitu still lives on the grounds of Hamlin’s Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital and is a much loved matriarch in her own right. She remains dedicated to transforming the lives of women suffering fistula and eradicating this terrible condition once and for all. It is widely acknowledged that almost every fistula surgeon in the world today has been trained by Mamitu Gashe or by someone who was trained by Mamitu

Screen Shot 2020 09 16 at 3.33.04 pm | Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation (USA) | Working to eradicate obstetric fistula. Forever.

“I see Catherine as the sun who lit up Mamitu when she was so alone and vulnerable as a fistula patient. And then Mamitu shone so brightly herself as a truly extraordinary woman, rescuing thousands of others from the darkness." - Tesfaye Mamo, CEO, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia.

Healing Lives: Mamitu's story

Healing Lives by Sue Williams reveals the untold tale of Mamitu Gashe, the protégée of Dr Catherine Hamlin, and the inspiring friendship between the two women. Mamitu came to the hospital as a patient in 1962 with a horrific obstetric fistula injury, she went on to become one of the most acclaimed fistula surgeons in the world, despite never having had a day’s schooling. This is a story about the power of passion, giving, and an unlikely friendship, that will capture your heart.

Screen Shot 2020 09 16 at 3.33.12 pm | Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation (USA) | Working to eradicate obstetric fistula. Forever.
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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.