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The impact of love: Abebech's story

Abebech’s story is like that of many women in remote part of Ethiopia. She was excited when she fell pregnant but everything changed when she went into labor. She stayed in a painful labor for five days. With no medical support available, she finally gave birth to a stillborn baby and was left with a devastating obstetric fistula and leaking urine. 

She stayed home rather than risk public humiliation. She felt unclean, unwanted and unloved.

"I was afraid to go outside. My neighbors covered their noses when I went out." - Abebech

The start of a new chapter

For the next 27 years, Abebech lived in pain and shame until she was found by a Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia patient identification officer. He brought her to Hamlin’s Yirgalem fistula hospital for treatment and care. Upon arrival, she was given a Comfort Package that included a Hamlin blanket, lovingly made by a volunteer. It marked the beginning of her healing journey. 

Abebech41 | Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation | Together we can eradicate obstetric fistula in Ethiopia.

Finding love and healing

A Comfort Package also provides a woman with hygiene items, a clean new nightgown and slippers for her stay. These are utter luxuries for the many women who arrive at a Hamlin Fistula Hospital without shoes, wearing the only stained clothes they own. 

Abebech40 | Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation | Together we can eradicate obstetric fistula in Ethiopia.

It is estimated that around 31,000 women are still living with untreated fistula injuries in Ethiopia. A further 1,000 women suffer new fistula injuries every year, due to a lack of access to quality healthcare.

Your support helps these women feel valued and loved after years of suffering in isolation and shame.

Will you help provide life-restoring surgery and a Comfort Package to a woman like Abebech so she can begin her journey back to health and dignity?


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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.