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Wrapped in love and care: Meseret's story

At home in central Ethiopia, Meseret endured an agonizing, obstructed labor without a doctor or midwife to help her. 

Tragically, her baby was stillborn. She was left with a devastating obstetric fistula injury and was leaking urine. 

Meseret suffered in shame for a staggering 28 years.

Meseret sad 2400x1600 1 | Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation | Together we can eradicate obstetric fistula in Ethiopia.

It has been 28 years since I faced this problem [obstetric fistula]. I have never visited family or neighbors. If I have to go out, I usually avoid drinking, even if I am thirsty and rush back home in agony. I stayed in pain for those long years.”

— Meseret

One of many women in Ethiopia

An estimated 31,000 women in Ethiopia are suffering with an untreated obstetric fistula injury in Ethiopia.

Tragically, most women do not know that their injury can usually be repaired with a single surgery taking as little as two hours.

At Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, the treatment for women suffering with an obstetric fistula is focused on not just repairing their injury but also restoring their dignity.

Patients receive a customized program tailored to their needs that includes nutrition, physiotherapy, counseling, surgery and rehabilitation. This is known as the Hamlin Model of Care and this patient-centered approach has been widely replicated around the world.

Thanks to supporters like you, treatment and care at Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia is free of any charge to patients.

A Comfort Package was the start of Meseret’s healing

Meseret’s son finally told her she had suffered enough and insisted they search for a cure, promising Meseret he would look after her home and family. She finally traveled to Hamlin’s Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital where she was given a beautiful Comfort Package to mark the start of her healing journey.

“From the first day, I received new shoes, they make our bed clean every day, we took shower daily, we regularly get clean pyjamas and blankets, they even make our hair. They are our mothers who let us stay fully served. I had a peaceful night for the first time in my life,” Meseret recalls.

Meseret 2 2400x1600 1 | Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation | Together we can eradicate obstetric fistula in Ethiopia.

Thanks to compassionate supporters like you, every patient receives a Comfort Package when they arrive at a Hamlin fistula hospital for life-changing treatment

This beautiful gift makes a woman feel seen and loved. It includes a Hamlin blanket, hygiene items, a clean new nightgown and slippers, and a lovely homecoming dress so she can return to her community looking and feeling like the new person she’s become.

Meseret’s life is restored

Meseret’s healing continued with surgery and she has returned to her family and community with her health and dignity restored.

Meseret happy 2400x1600 1 | Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation | Together we can eradicate obstetric fistula in Ethiopia.

“This blanket serves as a remembrance of my beautiful stay here and helps me to recall the day of my cure. So I am happy having it. I will live thanking you for the rest of my life.”

- Meseret

Learn more about the Hamlin Model of Care.


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All rights reserved 2023 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 have been changed to protect the identities of those we help.