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Elsabet was born and raised in Jimma, a small farming village in the southwestern Oromia region of Ethiopia, a four-hour walk to the nearest government health clinic.

Soon after marrying she became pregnant. Elsabet went into labour at her mother’s house but, during a long, obstructed labor, her baby died and she sustained serious obstetric fistula injuries that left her leaking urine uncontrollably.

“That was the shameful moment in my life. I become completely hopeless.”

Elsabet is alone

Elsabet’s husband left her and she hid away for years, traumatised and alone. One day she heard about Hamlin’s Addis Ababa fistula hospital. She made the long journey and finally received surgery to repair her fistula injury. She is now completely dry.

Dr Catherine Hamlin and her husband Dr Reg Hamlin opened the Addis Ababa in 1974 to cater for the thousands of women who needed treatment for obstetric fistula. The Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital is now part of a network of six Hamlin fistula hospitals around Ethiopia.

Elsabet 1500x1000 1 | Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation | Together we can eradicate obstetric fistula in Ethiopia.

Finding healing

Elsabet says, “I didn’t believe that there would be a cure until I reach this hospital and see the amazing holistic care for many women like myself.

“The nurses and doctors treat me with love, I am served with delicious meals, I do exercise at the physiotherapy center and learn how to make crafts. Surprisingly all these services are totally free.

A new life for Elsabet

To date the hospitals have treated over 60,000 women but there are still thousands of women in need of treatment. Women like Elsabet who’s lives are restored after treatment.

‘You have helped me cure from such an agony unconditionally. Thank you,” says Elsabet.

Elsabet 1500x1000 2 1 | Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation | Together we can eradicate obstetric fistula in Ethiopia.

It’s a special contribution to ensure future generations of Ethiopian women like Elsabet won’t suffer the devastating effects of this horrific injury. 

This is the impact a legacy gift can make.

Learn more about leaving a gift in Will or a gift in legacy.


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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.