post The Fistula Project

March 27th, 2008

Filed under: The Unspoken — Lissan Magazine @ 16:19


The Fistula Project is determined to raise funds and awareness for the hardships that the women of Ethiopia endure on a day-to-day basis. This project is primarily concerned with the victims of fistula, a child-birth injury usually found in developing countries. As every minute goes by, a woman in this world suffers from a child-birth injury that could have easily been prevented through awareness about midwifery and labor care as well as through the supply of medical doctors. In Ethiopia, the ratio of medical doctors to civilians is very high; hence, not everyone receives the proper medical care in a timely manner. Through this scarcity, it is easy for a rural woman to deliver a still-born child and damage her bladder/vaginal tissue. The Fistula Project aims to not only raise funds to cure the victims of fistula but it also plans to help raise awareness in Ethiopia about fistula prevention and in the United States about fistula and how to assist its victims. The Ethiopian American Youth Initiative will partner with the Hamlin Fistula Hospitals in Ethiopia and the Fistula Foundation in the United States for The Fistula Project.

A single mom seeking help in southern Ethiopia
photo source:

Imagine a little girl of the unfortunate women in the world that get into obstructive labor. She doesn’t know when she starts her labor, no do the village women know. They tell her to push every day. After four days of pushing she delivers a dead baby. The only reason why she can deliver it is because the baby inside the mother gets smaller hen it’s dead. But she wakes up to a worse horror: finding her bed soaked in feces and body fluid. All the pushing has created that hole so everything is coming out uncontrollably. The young women are often shunned by their husbands, and sent back home to their parents. The women are then shunned by their families and communities because of the foul odor and the ignorance of the child-birth injury as some might perceive it as a contagious illness or the workings of the “devil.” The father orders a shed to be built for the isolated girl. There she will stay forever, until death. She’s ruined, a beautiful young girl, no hope whatsoever.

Fistulas are holes that develop in the tissue that separates the vagina from the bladder and rectum. It occurs in expectant mothers who have difficulty during labor because of small pelvises or a poorly positioned fetus. In the USA this problem is prevented by the Caesarian Section (C Section) surgery alternative to a natural birth. However, in developing countries, medical doctors are nowhere to be found; hence the women tend to lead a life without proper medical care one might find in the USA. Fistula is a preventable child-birth injury, through the C Section, however it can also be cured. Through a simple surgery, which was refined by Doctors Catherine and Reginald Hamlin, the dead tissue is taken out and new tissue from other parts of the body replaces the dead tissue.


In the 1950s, Catherine and Reginald Hamlin, two Australian Medical Doctors, wanted to leave Australia in order to assist women in unfortunate situations. Their desire was fulfilled when they were called upon to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Hamlins were shocked, having entered a country with almost no resources for pregnant women. They opened a small midwifery school at the Princess Tsehaye Memorial Hospital in Addis Ababa. While teaching at the school, a colleague introduced Catherine and Reginald to obstetric fistula and its impacts on the lives of rural women in Ethiopia. Once learning about fistula and the devastating impacts, the Hamlins began to plan the blueprints for a hospital.

After support from folks abroad in Europe and Australia as well as concern from the Ethiopian Government, the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital was officially commenced in 1974. The Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital is the only hospital in the world dedicated to exclusively treating fistula patients. Now, 34 years later, the hospital has expanded under the name The Hamlin Fistula Hospitals and aside from the flagship Addis Ababa hospital, five hospitals are being constructed in Mekelle, Bahar Dar, Harrar, Yirgalem and Metu to accommodate women in the rural lands who usually make an enduring trip to Addis Ababa. As of early 2008, the Mekelle, Yirgalem and Bahar Dar fistula hospitals have opened. The Hamlin Fistula Hospitals have cured over 28,000 women since 1974 and now have become an oasis of education and help. An abundance of Ethiopian and foreign medical doctors travel to the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital for training in the refined fistula repair surgery which was pioneered by the Hamlins. Today, the Government of Ethiopia is providing much needed support for the hospital. Aside from paying the salaries of all doctors and some medical staff at the Hamlin Fistula Hospitals, the hospital was also given a land grant to build “Desta Mender” (“Village of Joy” in Amharic) as a long-term care facility located outside of Addis Ababa. The Hamlin Fistula Hospitals are also given international support from 7 foundations all over the world which exclusively raise funds for the hospitals, of which in the United States is EAYI partner: The Fistula Foundation.

In 1993 Dr. Reginald Hamlin passed away but to this day Dr. Catherine Hamlin, in her 80s now, still performs the surgeries and can rest assure that an excellent medical team led by Medical Director Dr. Mulu Muleta and administrative team led by CEO Mark Bennet will take charge for the many years to come. Perhaps the most amazing and most important aspect of the Hamlin Fistula Hospitals is that no woman is turned down for fistula repair surgery and no woman pays one cent for her surgery. This is made possible from assistance from the 7 international foundations which support the hospitals as well as a variety of other governmental and inter-governmental organizations.

You can help by donating to The Fistula Project, a permanent project of the Ethiopian American Youth Initiative dedicated to raising funds for the Hamlin Fistula Hospitals. It is $450 US Dollars for the fistula repair package which consists of surgery, rehabilitation, a new dress as well as transportation back to the woman’s home. Practically, for $450 you are giving new life to a woman; you are turning a woman from despair to dignity. For The Fistula Project there are two ways to donate money, either to sponsor a woman for $450 US Dollars or to make a kind donation or gift. EAYI also encourages you to spread the word about the Hamlin Fistula Hospitals and to promote awareness about the rights of women in developing nations and about fistula.

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  1. Hi Adimassu, sehr brühend Geschichte. schön das ist auch mall so was ins licht kommet. da gibt so viel Sachen Vergraben geblieben sind. ich habe dir schön mal letzte mal auch E-Mails geschrieben
    gehabet .ich kann Englisch leider lesen und verstehen aber dir zurück zuschreiben fällt mir noch etwas ,aber ich werd es das Next’s mall versuchen, ich hoffe das du Deutsch verstehest. will deine Adress Frankfurt sagt habe ich mir einfach erlaubt auf deutsch zuschreiben. nun ich habe dir eine frag gestallte gehabet ob du einverstanden bist das ich dir paar fragen stellen kann. Oder besser gesagt ob du zeit hast für Unterhaltung .bin in Ethiopien geboren auf gewachsen bis bestimmte alter in ethio, danach nach Deutschland und habe nur eine nach andre Päsche oder mit meine jungten zeit wo ich vieles auf nehmen sollte, habe nur die schlimmste jungend zeit, Die man in Europa erleben kann erlebt. es ist kaum vorstellbar .wenn ich einem erzähle, mir sagen viel in Europa gibt gesäte so was gibt’s nicht … die Glamour Welt die gelenzt und und da sind so viele Sachen dich ich mit mir trag wo ich Mittler weil sage ich habe geschafft zusagen aber immer wieder das mich meine Alter nach hinten zieht und nicht vorwert kann. Na ja ich hoffe ich habe dich nicht gelangweilt. ich weiß dass irgendwas Starks in mir stäkt. was ich selber nicht raus holen kann. habe immer unglaublich Idee und in vieles talentiert aber nee durch gebrach

    Comment by Beminet — 28. March 2008 @ 15:42

  2. Hallo Beminet,
    danke, dass Du dir Zeit genommen hast mir ein Kommentar zu schreiben. Selbstverständlich kannst Du auch in Deutsch deine Meinung schreiben. Deine Teilnahme ist hier wichtiger als die Sprache selbst. Wenn Du uns von deine Geschichte erzählen würdest, wäre das uns sehr willkommen. Wenn Du möchtest, könnten wir deine Geschichte in Lissan veröffentlichen und dich mit unseren Lesern bekannt machen. Es langweilt uns überhaupt nicht, weil jede Schicksal Geschichte für uns eine Bereicherung ist.

    Comment by Admassu — 29. March 2008 @ 13:43

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