The Hamlin College of Midwives (HCM) graduated 20 female candidates, 7th batch since its establishment in 2007, with BSc Degree in Midwifery on Saturday, July 15, 2017 at its College’s Compound.  Families, friends, staff, Board of Trustees, and representatives from partner organizations, embassies and the government, as well as honored guests from overseas attended the ceremony and celebrated the graduates’ accomplishments as they completed a significant step in midwifery education.

IMG_4883

Dean of the College, Ato Zelalem Belete, along with Hamlin’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Tesfaye Yacob, and Co-founder, Dr. Catherine Hamline, presided over the College’s seventh-graduation ceremony. “This is a tremendous milestone that you have reached,” Ato Zelalem said, while congratulating the graduates for their successful achievements.  “One thing that you have gotten here at Hamlin College of Midwives – in addition to your subject matter- is serving your community to the best you can. That requires compassion, dedication, commitment and belongingness. I’m glad that you’ve all this,” he noted. “These 20 graduates will raise the total number of skilled female midwives to 125, trained and deployed by the College since 2007,” he further noted.

IMG_4995

Chief Executive Officer of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, Dr. Tesfaye Yacob, also spoke at the ceremony. “Congratulations for you’ve officially joined today the oldest profession in human history. Through your respected practices, you are contributing to the final task of eliminating Obstetric Fistula and transforming the services of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia towards Comprehensive Maternal Health Service Unit,” he said.

“The main thing I hope you will have learnt from your training here and from our hospitals is to love. If you love your work you will put your mind and hearts into it, and soon find that you enjoy your work , and so it will not be a burden, but a joy as you witness and help a new baby to be born and join this World’s population,” Dr. Catherine Hamlin, co-founder of the Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, addressed the graduates.

Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia oversees the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital and its five regional centers, the Hamlin College of Midwives, and the Hamlin Rehabilitation and Reintegration Training Center (Desta Mender).  The Hamlin College of Midwives was established in 2007, and has so far graduated more than 125 skilled female midwives with BSc Degree and deployed them back into their communities.

IMG_5056

 

Some run marathons; others walk on bare foot; some others swim lakes ….; but all for one big cause, helping the poor women suffering from the traumatic birth injury. Without the full engagement of all our supporters, such life changing work couldn’t be possible at all.

Recently, a fund-raising adventure for this big cause was successfully completed in the Switzerland. A group of eight teenagers, named the ChaCha Team, have crossed the cold Geneva Lake swimming end to end aiming at raising funds for fistula surgery.

chacha

“It was two years back that I got the chance of visiting the amazing work at the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, and when I saw women of almost in my age had been suffering from the traumatic birth injury which I never thought of it to happen, I immediately decided to support this work in any way I could. This is how the idea of ChaCha Team began,” said the 17 year old Theodosia Catsiapis, one of the members of the team.

Back home, Theodosia told her friends at school about the sufferings of young Ethiopian women she saw. No one said no to her request for support. The eight willing teenagers, including herself, have started preparing for their biggest life challenge-swimming the cold and long river full of scary water creatures. The ChaCha team, through this adventure, has raised awareness on obstetric fistula, and of course managed to raise 76, 000 USD for Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia.

IMG_4640 IMG_4648

 

Being the youngest of the ChaCha Team, Theodosia , accompanied by our Swiss Trust member Lisa, has arrived at the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital to handover the donation in a small ceremony held on July 13 afternoon where Dr. Catherine and other staff members were in attendance.

“You are a teenage, but matured enough to care for others in need. I thank you and all your team members for the commitment you’ve shown to help the big cause that my husband and I have devoted our lives to,” said Dr. Catherine during the donation ceremony.

With the donation, 100 fistula patients will get holistic care and be reintegrated back into their communities with full dignity. The rest of the money is for sponsoring one student at the Hamlin College of Midwives for the whole four years degree training in Midwifery.

This year’s national event of celebrating the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula with the theme “Hope, Healing and Dignity for All” was held inside the breathtaking compound of The Addis Ababa Hamlin Fistula Hospital on May 23, 2017. The ceremony was attended by representatives from the Federal Ministry of Health, UNFPA, USAID, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, Gondar University, Jimma University and other partner organizations. Fistula survivors, who are currently under treatment at the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, were also in the attendance.

IMG_3654

On his welcoming speech Dr. Tesfaye Yacob, HFE CEO, said, “I believe the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, perhaps anywhere else in the world, is the right place to celebrate the day, and thank you for joining us today. Celebrating International Day to End Obstetric Fistula is a way to encourage partners to join their hands and raise their voices to promote the common goal of ending fistula and restoring women’s dignity. The more understanding and action we generate today, the more we can look forward to a future where obstetric fistula becomes a history of the past. He added, “By all standards, nationally and globally, Dr. Catherine Hamlin and her late husband Dr. Reginald Hamlin take much of the credit in the fight against fistula. Over the past 50 plus years, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia has treated more than 50, 000 fistula patients and reintegrated the majority of them back into their communities.”

IMG_3709

 

H.E. Dr. Eshetu Kebede, representative from the Federal Ministry of Health, on his part, said that the Ministry has considered obstetric fistula as a major childbirth injury in its Health Transformation Plan, and is working cooperatively with all its partners to address the issue. He also expressed his appreciation to the leading role that Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia is playing in the fight against obstetric fistula altogether from Ethiopia.

IMG_3795

Presentation, discussion, fistula testimonial and press conference were also parts of the day.

gawardb

W/ro Beletshachew Tadesse, HFE Reintegration & Rehabilitation Manager, speaking during the award ceremony

GawardThe first ever “Ethiopian Girls Award” was colorfully  held at the Mosaic Hotel,  Addis Ababa, on March 20, 2017.  The purpose of the award was to recognize outstanding efforts of individuals and institutions that contributed to the advancement of education and gender equality and empowerment of girls.

This year’s award is named after Dr. Catherine Hamlin, 93, founder of the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, the world’s only medical center dedicated exclusively to providing free obstetric fistula repair surgery to poor women suffering from childbirth injuries.

 Distinguished people from International agencies, embassies, celebrities and girls from high schools and universities attended the ceremony. It was hosted by Actress Selam Tesfaye, Wings Education & Media and its collaborators.

“I’m now doing what I love- helping the very poor young girls and women in my community,”

Sr. Agegnehu Lihikina

Agegnehu Lihikina, 25, was born and educated in a small rural town of Amhara region, north Ethiopia. The fact that she was among the top ranking students on high school completion, Agegnehu was granted Hamlin’s free midwifery scholarship, and graduated as one of the 4th round Hamlin graduates in 2014. During her four-year-education at Hamlin College of Midwives, Agegnehu attended more than 80 safe deliveries, big enough to prove her practical experience.

IMG_2736

“I never had thought to study midwifery, but after I noticed the work of Hamlin and learned tens of thousands of rural women are suffering from birth related complications just because of lack of midwives, I changed my mind and studied midwifery. I’m now doing what I love- helping the very poor young girls and women in my community,” Sr. Agegnehu said.

Soon after her graduation, she was deployed to Birakat Health Center, one of government health centers close to her birth place, in Amhara region. In the footsteps of her seniors, who also are Hamlin trained midwives, she started her career with passion- passion to help poor rural mothers of her community, and, of course, to contribute her share in the efforts to end obstetric fistula altogether.

After serving at Birakat Health Center for a year and a half, Sr. Agegnehu moved to Wetet Abay Health Center, another Hamlin supported government clinic in the region. Along with her colleague, Sr. Siranesh, who is also Hamlin’s graduate, she is now leading the maternal health care service of Wetet Abay Health Center. “I have seen two clinics in my experience so far. Hamlin’s graduates are best midwives.  They can handle complicated cases with full confidence. Thank you and am proud to be trained at Hamlin,” Sr. Agegnehu said.

Dr. Catherine Hamlin celebrated her 93rd Birthday on Tuesday, January 24, 2017 at the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital.  She was joined by Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia staff and invited guests. Her only son, Mr. Richard Hamlin and his wife, Mrs. Jo, were also in the attendance. During the occasion, Mr. Richard made a remarkable speech.

“Today is the day – a 93rd birthday, special for anyone but especially for Emaye and all of us here. On Dr Hamlin’s behalf, thank you for interrupting your day to be here…

 …Dr Reginald Hamlin and his wife Dr Catherine arrived in Ethiopia to start work for the Ethiopian Health Ministry at the Princess Tsehai Hospital. As they gradually realized the need of patients with fistula, they knew they must stay in Ethiopia long after their contracts came to an end. They came across the many unbelievable life stories of patients that made them realize they had made the right choice to stay.

 One patient was cured after suffering urinary incontinence for forty years. She had lived all that time, due to shame at her condition’s offensive smell, in a separate house near her relatives. She was twenty when obstructed labour had caused her fistula. Her wonder at how easily she had been healed at the age of sixty and the fact that she had been living only a few kilometres from Addis all that time made her tears of gratitude especially sweet to witness. When she realized she was healed and dry, she knelt on the ground and tried to kiss Emaye’s feet… but Emaye also knelt on the ground and received her gratitude and helped the lady to her feet…”

Dr. Catherine thanked all Hamlin staff and partners who have stood on her side to help the poor women and young girls of Ethiopia, and asked them to remain committed until fistula becomes a history of the past in the country.

IMG_0359 IMG_0699

A ferry is named after world-renowned Australian doctor and humanitarian Catherine Hamlin in Sydney, Australia. More than 60, 000 votes were cast by the public on the final list of ferry names, and Sydneysiders have cast their votes in favour of naming the city’s first new ferry after Dr. Catherine Hamlin.

“This is the news we rejoice,” said Dr. Tesfaye Yacob, HFE CEO, adding that Dr. Catherine Hamlin is a remarkable woman and certainly deserves to be celebrated.

Dr. Catherine thanked Sydneysiders for their votes and hoped the ferry’s naming would draw greater attention to the work of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia. “I am so grateful. It really is lovely to know that so many people have tremendous love for our work and for our patients,” she said.

The Catherine Hamlin, along with other five new vessels, will be launched in Sydney Harbor in January.

sydney2

Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia (HFE) handed over a modern maternity ward at Wetet Abay Health Center, Mecha district, Amhara region, to the community and management of the center on 8th November 2016. The facility was constructed with full support from HFE and the Peggy Foundation, Adelaide, Australia to improve maternal and child health care services in the district.wetet-abay-img-31

In his speech during the handing over ceremony, attended by staff members of Wetet Abay Health Center, representatives from HFE and Mecha District Health Bureau, and members of Wetet Abay community, Ato Zelalem Belete, Prevention Manager at HFE and Dean of Hamlin College of Midwives, said that the construction of the maternity ward at Wetet Abay Health Center will have enormous benefit to the Wetet Abay community, particularly in reducing child and maternal mortality in the area. He also appealed to opinion leaders and community elders in the area to educate women in their communities to attend the clinic when pregnant.

Operations Manager at HFE, Ato Tilahun Molla, said that the construction of the maternity block will enable expectant mothers to have access to quality antenatal and postnatal care, and this will subsequently lead to the decrease in infant mortality, maternal deaths and reproductive health issues.

Speaking at the ceremony, Ato Welderufayel Degu, Head of Wetet Abay Health Center said that the facility will benefit many mothers and their new-borns and encourage the health workers to keep up the good working spirit so far exhibited. He added that before the construction of the new maternity ward at the health center, they were faced with serious challenges for expectant mothers due to limited space, among others. “We are grateful to Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia and to everyone involved to such a worthwhile cause. We are so encouraged by what has been achieved so far and look forward to continued efforts in brining direct and tangible health benefits to our community,” he added.

wetet-abay-img-1

While congratulating the community on the construction of the modern ward at the center, Ato Belete Mengesha, representative from Mecha District Health Bureau, indicated that Wetet Abay district is one of the districts in Amhara region that has achieved great results in the reduction of maternal mortality in spite of challenges related to space, healthcare resources and mothers living in far and hard-to-reach areas. “I hope this modern ward will significantly contribute to the great results the community has achieved so far. “

A resident of the Mecha district, W/ro Felekech Gizaw, said that she is extremely happy that they have been given a facility that they have always desired for. “I delivered my first baby here on the floor just because the existing maternity ward had few beds and they all were occupied, now that this facility has been set up and we shall have better services,” she added.

Following the handover, members of the community were filled with pride and excitement to see their longstanding issue solved through the support from Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia.

Women No More Labor in Darkness

Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia (HFE) has distributed more than 162 solar suitcases, a project funded by Greenlamp, to remote health centers in four regions to enhance safe and prompt delivery services at nights. Out of these suitcases, Oromiya  received 57, Amhara 51, Tigray 24, and SNNP 30.

A reliable light source is one of the things often lacking in these clinics, forcing midwives to resort to the use of flashlights and kerosene lamps. The inconveniences and health risks associated with these lighting sources in general are compounded when assisting mothers to deliver babies.

img_3094

The solar suitcases facilitate timely and appropriate emergency care, reduce maternal and infant morbidity and mortality, and improve the quality of care in the clinics. Without good lighting, it is extremely difficult to conduct safe deliveries, suture areas of bleeding, and resuscitate babies. “With the solar suitcases, health providers can see at night for routine deliveries, and can promptly diagnose and treat birth complications,” said Ato Abebayehu H/Selassie, Solar Suitcase Project Coordinator at HFE, adding that lack of light may lead to the loss of a baby’s or a mother’s life, or both.  “So far we have helped benefit nearly 30 thousand mothers, well over our target for the 2016 fiscal year. Although we have made significant progress toward reaching our goal, there are still many more mothers and newborns who can benefit from the solar suitcases,” he added.

“The solar suitcases have significantly addressed the electricity problem in the health centers, and transformed the night time care,” said, Dr. Tesfaye, HFE CEO, adding that plans are underway to distribute more solar suitcases in other remote health centers.

The Addis Abeba Fistula Hospital’s Operation Room named Dr. Reginald Operation Theater has been under renovation for the past two months and will be wrapped up this month. This  approximately 4 million birr renovation project has been carried out against the backdrop of adding a new intervention on Urology Fellowship that Hamlin is handling in collaboration with Mekele University and Paulos Hospital, and of Hamlin’s long-term strategic plan of providing ‘Quality Maternal Health Care Services.

img_5301

The renovation has incorporated installing a new machine, along with operation table, called C-arm/ fluoroscopy, which would maximize the accuracy and quality of surgeries undergoing in the Operation Room(OR).  “In the OR, the machine is used for a variety of diagnostic imaging including urology procedures and pain management,” said Dr. Fekade Ayenachew, Medical Director and Senior Fistula Surgeon at Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia. On his part, Dr. Yeshineh Demrew,  a Senior Fistula Surgeon at the hospital, indicated that the new C-arm machine would simplify the medical care to a very accurate digital service and increase the current surgery success rate. He added that the renovation provides medical staff with greater ease in delivering care in a timely fashion for a growing number of fistula patients.

The project has also included new flooring, wall colors, lighting and furniture as well as new finishes on the walls, handrails, flooring and ceilings. Small details to increase patient comfort are also given consideration. “We’re very excited about this renovation project, not only because it will provide a more comfortable, convenient environment for our patients, but because it will allow our staff and surgeons to offer better patient care day in and day out,” said CEO Dr. Tesfaye Yacob. Operations Manager, Ato Tilahun Mola, also indicated that all of the planned improvements for the hospital-current and future-will help solidify Hamlin Fistula Addis Ababa Hospital as a leading fistula care and treatment provider in the area.