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Help Young Mothers Heal From Obstetric Fistula

Item # 47248

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Help a young mother heal from the devastating childbirth injury of an obstetric fistula, and provide transformational healing in the lives of women in Ethiopia.

An obstetric fistula occurs after prolonged and agonizing obstructed labor, forming a hole through which urine and/or feces pass uncontrollably. Women who develop a fistula are often abandoned by their husbands and rejected by their communities. Most cases of obstructed labor result in a stillborn birth, leaving the woman with a double sorrow of the death of her baby and this devastating condition.

These women can be healed, physically and emotionally. The Addis Ababa Hamlin Fistula Hospital and its five regional hospitals are dedicated to treating Ethiopian women, rehabilitating and reintegrating them into society, and most importantly, instilling in them a sense of dignity and self-worth. Clinical treatment for each patient includes all aspects of her care, including surgery, physiotherapy, psychological counseling, and general medical care. The hospitals are committed to the UN Millennium Development Goals, particularly those directed toward improving maternal health, reducing infant mortality, and empowering women.

You can help. Each level of giving helps provide fistula repair surgery, pre- and post-operative care, a new dress, and transportation home for one patient. $450 is the average cost to fully treat one woman.

Report from the Field
March 2017- Zemzem's Story


Zemzem is from an isolated village in the North of Ethiopia. At 16, she married a local farmer and dreamt of having a big family. But this was not to be. Zemzem became pregnant nine times. None of her babies survived. Despite her heartbreak, Zemzem remained hopeful. During her tenth pregnancy, she had a very difficult labor. She labored at home for three days. Her baby was stillborn. The pressure of the baby’s head caused an obstetric fistula, leaving Zemzem incontinent. Zemzem’s husband was worried about her, but with no access to medical help, there was nothing he could do. He did his best to look after her until he died unexpectedly five years later. Unable to support herself and with no family to care for her, Zemzem struggled on in a squalid little hut with only a rough cloth to sleep on. When it rained, the water came flooding in. Zemzem relied on the compassion of others in her village who occasionally threw her some food. Severely malnourished, she became extremely weak. She could barely fend off the wild animals that came to her hut searching for scraps.“Death is more preferable than such a tragic life. I had tried to commit suicide many times, but I used to be too weak even for that.” Zemzem

Help finally arrived. Hamlin medical staff found Zemzem on a door-to-door search and took her to the Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Metu. After a month of good nutrition, physiotherapy, and care Zemzem was strong enough to have surgery to repair her fistula.

The Addis Ababa Hamlin Fistula Hospitals provide free fistula repair surgery to approximately 3,000 women every year. Hamlin Fistula USA's mission is to raise funds for the activities of the Addis Ababa Hamlin Fistula Hospital, regional hospitals, and the Hamlin College of Midwives, and to raise awareness of the issue of obstetric fistula, a devastating childbirth injury.

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