When Dr Catherine Hamlin was born in January 1924, “Happy Birthday to You” was first published, the first winter Olympics were held in France, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue was number one in the US charts and Stanley Bruce was the Prime Minister of Australia! It’s been 91 years and Dr Hamlin has certainly had a remarkable life. Between 1924 and 2015 Dr Hamlin has achieved more than most, co-founding the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital with her husband Reginald and spending more than half a century living in Ethiopia, serving some of the most marginalised women in the world.
During her lifetime, Dr Hamlin has lived through World War II (she was studying medicine in Sydney throughout the war) and after moving to Ethiopia in 1959, lived through three government regimes and the disastrous famine on the 1980s. The Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital and her brave patients were always Dr Hamlin’s focus through the most challenging times.
At age 91, Dr Hamlin still takes an active role in the leadership of the hospital and lives in her cottage on the banks of the river within the hospital grounds.
In the last year Dr Hamlin has officiated another successful graduation at the Hamlin College of Midwives and was nominated for a second time for a Nobel Peace Prize. What a year it has been.
This year, Dr Hamlin celebrated her birthday in Addis Ababa with some very special guests and patients. It was quiet an intimate occasion compared to last year’s 90th birthday celebration for several hundred guests.