The first Fistula hospital in New York closed its doors in 1925, the year after Catherine Hamlin was born. That’s a really long time ago!
Yet in the developing nations, where there are not enough doctors, midwives, and places where women can be medically seen to in cases of difficult childbirths, this condition is extremely common. But the surgery can be out of financial reach of the women who need it badly, so they live in isolation, in disgrace and shame.
Dr. Hamlin answered an advertisement in a medical journal to head on over to Ethiopia and open a midwifery school, on a three year contract, way back in 1959. Go forward a decade and a half and the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital was founded by Catherine and her Husband, Dr. Reginald Hamlin.
Jump forward to 2007 and Dr Hamlin helped open the Hamlin College of Midwives, starting with only 12 students. The college aimed to have a birth attendant for as many regional areas as possible.
Now Dr Hamlin and her team have helped save the lives of over 35,000 women and the number is climbing daily.
Catherine is highly decorated with awards from many countries over many decades, but I feel that none of that really matters to a woman with a heart of gold, a will of iron, and a steely resolve. Thank you Dr. Hamlin–for giving the lives back to so many women who would otherwise suffer, and in some cases die, from a condition that’s very treatable.
For more information on Fistula, here’s a public service announcement by Natalie Imbruglia
For more information on how you can help fund Catherine’s amazing work in Ethiopia http://hamlin.org.au/
There’s also a book (though apparently it’s recommended to the older reader)
The Hospital by the River: A story of Hope
By Catherine Hamlin and John Little
Paperback, 308 pages
Published March 3rd 2005 by Monarch Books (first published January 1st 2001)
ISBN 0825460719 (ISBN13: 9780825460715)