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Midwife Hero

Young Hamlin midwife Tisita, at 23, already exhibits the hard work ethic and heroic attitude inspired by her own heroine, Dr Catherine Hamlin. 

Four hours and 86km of gut twisting 4-wheel drive travel away from the Hamlin hospital in Harar, Tisita is the sole midwife in a Hamlin midwifery centre in Dogu. There used to be two other midwives employed by the District Health Board (DHB), but they have moved on and the DHB has not replaced them. We would never guess that she is managing 60-70 births a month on her own โ€“ as well as antenatal, postnatal, and family planning visits. Everything is basic but immaculate, with equipment carefully organised and blankets neatly folded on the beds. She proudly shows us around the delivery room recently equipped by Hamlin. Drawn on the wall above her head is a heart-felt motto to be shouted loud by any midwife or doctor, โ€œZero tolerance for death of mother.โ€

Although working in extremely challenging conditions, as most Hamlin midwives do, of sporadic water supply, irregular electricity, remote and isolated work-places and national shortages of drugs and equipment, we hear no complaints from Tisita. She is the sole Orthodox Christian living in and serving a Muslim area. She says she tries hard to be friendly and chat with the locals on the few occasions she leaves the health centre compound.  Her eyes light up and her face shines as she tells us of her desire to perform more community outreach: providing health education in the community and encouraging young mothers to use the pregnancy and delivery services of the midwifery centre. She is bursting at the seams to share her knowledge. Travel out is frustratingly hindered by having no midwife to relieve her and by the distance limitations of travel by foot.
The women that she seeks to serve are women like Zaramsa and Bedria, fistula patients recovering from surgery in the Hamlin Harar Hospital. Each mothers of five, they both carry the heartache of having only two living children. Zaramsa delivered without midwifery care at home in her community; her third stillbirth also left her with the traumatic legacy of fistula. Bedriaโ€™s story is similar โ€“ four deliveries at home with a final stillbirth in a public hospital where she was injured during a caesarean section and left with a fistula.
Your donation helps Tisita, so that she is able to strive for a brighter future for the mothers of Dogu โ€“ for childbirth without injury or death.

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.