Dear Friends and Supporters, 

I am so grateful for your kind support and for your concern for our poor patients. They are indeed poor in every sense of the word, injured only because there was nobody to help them when they were in obstructed labour.  Some who are left with a fistula wish that they had died with their baby! Their plight is so dreadful and their life is now ruined, unless they can be cured.


It is time to give you more news of what is happening at the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital and all our centers and to thank you all for your interest and your generosity in helping us to cure our patients and to look forward to the day when every labour in Ethiopia a safe one!  This can be done, and our midwives will play a big part in achieving this in the not too distant future.  We are pleased with every midwife that graduates, and this year on October 24 we will graduate more midwives who will be looking after mothers in the remote countryside.  


(Photo by Joni Kabana)


Some of our centers in the provinces are very busy, but still we are short of fistula surgeons. This is a worry, but at present we manage sending one of our gynecologists to the centers for a week or two. Dr. Yifru recently was doing this in Yirgalem center and a patient arrived who needed urgent help - her fistula had so many scars over the opening that her urine was unable to leak out so, her kidneys were badly obstructed with urine and already damaged.  She was indeed very ill with renal failure as a result.  Dr. Yifru was able to drive this desperate patient to us here in Addis Ababa. Fortunately, a visiting urologist from Germany staying with us, Dr. Renate Roentgen, she was able to drain her obstructed kidneys. Her life has been saved but there is much more to be done for the repair of her fistula.


(Photo by Joni Kabana)


I leave the clinical side of this letter to tell you of the good work and celebrations of  the last couple of months.  Now a short description of the earlier party which was for me a surprise on my true birthday date in late January.  I knew something was on, as it was a Friday and no operations arranged!  I saw the ribbons and balloons as I walked up my path to the hospital.  What a crowd awaited me and what a choir of staff singing and what music came from a keyboard from one of our workers who can play!  I was escorted to a table decorated with flowers and balloons!  A soft chair provided for a 90 year old woman!  The whole afternoon was amazing and wonderful - speeches made, friends and staff with presents and hugs!  A cake and 90 candles - very hard to blow them out and I needed help for this!

  (Photo by Joni Kabana)   


In March's celebration, I was thrilled to have very high officials like the First Lady, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Health, Arch Bishop of the Ethiopian Catholic Church, partners from our trusts and friends from all over the world, regional and organizational representatives, staff and patients at Desta Mender.  It really was a very lovely party and at this event the Minister of Health made an official commitment to eradicate fistula from Ethiopia within the coming five years, which is so ambitious but it shows the world is awakened!  I hope by the middle of this century this may become a reality.


In late May, we celebrated the United Nations International Day to End Obstetric Fistula with a private party for my faithful staff and our patients. It was a marvelous day with a performance from Fikade Circus. In the group there were singers and dancers, jugglers and balloon blowers. It was very unusual for a hospital to hold such entertainment but for that reason it was a delightful break for the patients, many of whom may never have seen such a thing! It was held on our big front lawn.


(Photo by Harriet Andrews)


We have had a busy but very interesting few months with many visitors. Some of whom have given generously to our cause! And we are so grateful. I also hear of many groups of women in Australia who meet and knit or sew together - making shawls and also things to sell in our shop. I thank you all for doing this and I hope you enjoy each other's company as you work for our patients.  


Here we continue to have a full hospital and to see many going home cured - some come back a few years later to have a caesarian section - and many now have been through our special mothers ward and go home with a healthy baby in their arms.


So for all of this, I want to say thank you!

Kindest Regards,

Catherine Hamlin signature

Dr. Catherine Hamlin

Hamlin Fistula USA

Dr. Hamlin
 (Photo by Joni Kabana)

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Hamlin Fistula USA
PO Box 460312
St. Louis, MO 63146