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Hope for a family: Miskiya's story

Obstetric fistula can devastate the chances of a woman having marriage and children in the future. Marriages are often broken by the tragedy of losing a first baby in childbirth. With no foreseeable prospects of physical recovery, women are often abandoned by their husbands. Miskiya and Nejat are a story of hope.

Miskiya and her husband Nejat farm in a remote Harar community three hours walking distance from the nearest small town. Together, they work hard to provide all the food they will need for the next year.

A devastating but preventable injury

Miskiya and Nejat were devastated after the stillborn birth of their first baby. After two days of labouring at home with a traditional birth attendant and unable to push anymore, the unconscious Miskiya was taken to the closest clinic. Not only did their baby die, but she woke up incontinent, with urine draining freely down her legs because of an obstetric fistula injury.

A journey to healing

After three months, Nejat brought her to the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital where she had surgery to repair the fistula. Unfortunately, once home again, she began dripping urine again while she slept. Day to day life was difficult, and Miskiya isolated herself from the other villagers.

Two years later, pregnant again, she came to the Hamlin Harar Hospital for a caesarean, where the doctors discovered she was still incontinent. After delivering her healthy baby boy by caesarean, they again surgically treated her fistula, curing her forever.

I didn’t think that the incontinence would be repaired. My aim was to protect myself from any further severe damage, as I was told by the staff at Addis Ababa. It was like a surprise for me and my husband who had been with me in all those hard days.


Five years later, Miskiya, Nejat and their five-year old son are back at Hamlin Harar Hospital for the caesarean birth of her their next baby. Their son has been nicknamed ‘the Hamlin’s son’ by all her family.

A loving family given hope

Unlike many husbands who abandon their wives with fistula injuries, Nejat has been by her side feeling her pain and trying every possible way to find a cure for her dreadful injury.

I now feel as if we had got sick together and cured together. I used to wash her clothes, serve her with food and do what men shouldn’t do in our community, to let my wife feel she isn’t alone. You do a marvelous job for women like my wife for free, bringing them to their dignity with a motherly care and support that they might not get even from family. May Allah bless you all.


I have no words to thank the staff here than praying the Almighty pays them multiple for their generosity to us.


You can support families like Miskiya's to have a bright future together.

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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.