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Equipping for Success – Asmira’s Story

Before the reintegration [programme] I had nothing to eat or wear. We used to live by luck. We used all the money we had searching for a cure for fistula. But since I passed through the Desta Mender training and reintegration programme my life has changed. The education equipped me with confidence in fighting for my legal rights, and I succeeded in getting back the
farmland taken from me. Now I harvest enough food to feed my family. The seed money I received five years ago [from Hamlin] has now grown to big capital. I have constructed a new and better home. Emaye [Dr. Catherine] gave me back my health and became a source of wealth to my family. - Asmira

Asmira, who estimates her age to be around 40, is now living in a remote rural village in Northern Ethiopia, close to Hamlin’s hospital in Bahir Dar. She lives with her two daughters and her husband of 25 years, Lemma. The long labour she faced in her third pregnancy severely damaged her bladder.

Asmira and her husband spent every single coin they had searching for a cure until they finally arrived at Bahir Dar Hamlin Fistula Hospital for help.

Her case was complex and required multiple treatments and surgeries. Asmira lived for almost five years with incontinence until she and her husband decided to take the brave step for a diversion surgery. It has been five years since her diversion surgery at the main hospital in Addis Ababa. Since then, Asmira completed the rehabilitation and reintegration training at Desta Mender and started business back in her village using the seed money provided.

Lemma has been there by her side in all her sufferings as well as her successes. Thanks to the education Asmira received at Hamlin Fistula, they have been able to rise above subsistence living and thrive in their work together:

Because of that devastating problem my wife was restricted to home unable to support herself, let alone the family. Now, after you treated her, she visits markets with friends, goes to church, eats, and drinks whatever she wants and protects her health. The seed money you gave her decidedly changed our life. We have been working hard to raise our income. I work on the farm, and she handles the market. Currently we have enough food to feed our family for over a year. We have a new house, two cows and planted cash crops on our farm. The seed money is the start of all of these. You brought happiness back to our home, and I can’t thank you enough for your generosity. - Lemma

In a recent visit from Hamlin staff, Asmira’s happiness beamed from her smiling face as she welcomed them with love and affection. It was clear to see that her quality of life has improved beyond what most in her community would hope for. Her daughters are in good health, her home is clean and comfortable, and she enjoys some of the benefits of modern living.

Since 2002, women at Desta Mender (meaning ‘Joy Village’) have been empowered to lead lives of dignity. The Hamlin Model of Care prioritises equipping patients for the future. Where needed, women are provided with the support and resources to generate income for themselves and their families, with start-up grants for businesses/micro enterprise. Your support means more women like Asmira are equipped to return home and make a positive impact in their families and communities.

Help us give hope to every woman.

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Hamlin Fistula NZ is committed to providing ongoing support for fistula surgery and for the preventive work of the midwives. The hospital in Addis Ababa has become a centre of excellence to which doctors from other countries come to learn and master the specialist skills of fistula surgery.

Photography credits to Mary F. Calvert, Kate Geraghty, Amber Hooper, Joni Kabana, Joli Wescombe, Natasha Meyer and Martha Tadesse.