Dr. Catherine Hamlin talks with BBC Newshour about her life and work in Ethiopia.
On International End Fistula Day, Dr. Catherine Hamlin shares experiences and insight with the Guardian from her 50 years in the fight to end fistula in Ethiopia.
Delivery from shame
HEALTH | Dr. Catherine Hamlin pioneered fistula surgery, helping countless outcast women, but now she needs more doctors to carry the work forward |Emily Belz
When women arrive at the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, they usually reek of urine and feces. Often they have walked many miles and their husbands have abandoned them as social outcasts. Common in countries where women labor in childbirth without any medical care, fistula is an injury resulting from days, even a week, of obstructed labor. The rare woman to survive such trauma and blood loss is left with an open wound that dribbles human waste—and her child is usually dead or severely malformed.
Dr. Catherine Hamlin and her team were recently in the states for the launch of Hamlin Fistula USA. Following is an exclusive interview with Dr. Hamlin and former CEO Mark Bennett, CEO of Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital.
By, Tiberah Tsehai: In AmharicEmiye is an endearing term for mother: what Dr. Catherine Hamlin represents to those she has touched in Ethiopia and around the four corners of the world.
Like a mother she cares for the poorest daughters of Ethiopia. They are shunned and often think of suicide as an escape from their harrowing state.
They suffer from obstetric fistula- one of the most devastating childbirth injuries- usually caused by several days of obstructed labor. Often, a stillborn is delivered and the woman is left with incontinence.
Although obstetric fistula has been eradicated in the United States for more than 100 years it is still prevalent in developing countries.
For over 50 years Catherine Hamlin has not only been repairing these women from their injuries but she has educated them, loved them, and sent them home in a new dress.
By Elissa Cooper
Dr. Catherine Hamlin, 87, has saved countless Ethiopian women’s lives through her work repairing fistulas. Most don’t know that she labors out of love for Jesus.
Vesicovaginal fistulas (VVFs) and the people who champion their eradication are fascinating. For Dr. L. Lewis Wall’s Christianity Today piece “Jesus and the Unclean Woman,” I spent a lot of time learning about VVFs for the accompanying news article, and enjoyed a refresher course for documentary review of A Walk to Beautiful for Her.meneutics. But I finally got to the heart of the story when I met Dr. Catherine Hamlin last month.
The world knows Hamlin’s name. The Australian obstetrician-gynecologist has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof dubbed her “the Mother Teresa of our age,” and Oprah has featured her story. However, Hamlin’s most striking quality is her Christian faith. It has driven her life’s work in healing women withVVFs in Ethiopia and her goal to end VVF worldwide by the end of the century. During her trip to launch Hamlin FistulaUSA — the newest member of Hamlin Fistula International — 87-year-old Hamlin sat down with me to talk.