2022 Christmas Message from our CEO, Helen Marriott
Our founders’, the late pioneering surgeons Dr Catherine Hamlin and Dr Reg Hamlin OBE, extraordinary journey started with an initial three-year posting to Ethiopia. Today, over sixty years later, our work continues to reflect a lifetime quest to provide life-changing treatment to some of the world’s most marginalised women.
Since I joined Hamlin two years ago, I have been blown away by the dedication of our colleagues in Ethiopia, and this year was no different.
Their hard work at five Hamlin hospitals across the country has shown impressive results with 2,584 operations for women with childbirth injures delivered – including surgeries for obstetric fistula, pelvic organ prolapse and other obstetric and gynaecological conditions.
This figure was slightly below our target for the period due to the continuing impact of the pandemic and civil unrest in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region. However, it remained a 50% increase on the previous year’s results and is testament to the hard work and dedication of our team in Ethiopia.
The unwavering commitment of our UK supporters and partners has been vital in making this work possible and changing the lives of so many women.
This has also been a year of highlights for Hamlin and some which stand out for me include:
- Congratulating 23 fourth year midwifery students at the Hamlin College of Midwives who worked hard to complete their final modules and graduate, with a 100% pass rate. They have been deployed to their new jobs at rural health centres across Ethiopia.
- Re-igniting Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’s inspiring partnership with the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) to train fistula surgeons from around the world, after a long break due to the pandemic. This year our expert surgeons received two FIGO trainees from Afghanistan and Nepal for placement at the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital.
- Welcoming two new Trustees to our UK board – Hewete Haileselassie is Senior Journalist Team Manager at BBC News working across the UK and East Africa, and Emnet Yadeta is an experienced social worker in Birmingham specialising in child protection.
- Travelling to Addis Ababa to join fellow leaders from our sister Hamlin charities around the world for Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’s first in-person annual programme meeting since 2019. A number of exciting new initiatives were launched in the meeting, including plans to scale up our work at Yirgalem Regional Fistula Hospital next year.
- Launching of The Hamlin College of Midwives’ brand new Masters in Clinical Midwifery course – the first of its kind in Ethiopia. This two and a half-year course will equip midwives with advanced clinical practice skills, including the skills to perform emergency caesarean deliveries for complicated cases. Graduates will also go on to train and mentor midwives all over Ethiopia.
I would like to thank our Patron, Baroness Tessa Blackstone for her support this year. The Hamlin Fistula UK team were honoured to meet with Baroness Blackstone at the House of Lords in October and we look forward to continuing to work together to raise awareness and tackle preventable childbirth injuries in Ethiopia.
Looking ahead Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia has set ambitious goals to reach even more women in need in remote and rural areas through expanding our Patient Identification Programme and I look forward to sharing more information with you on this exciting programme in the coming year!
It is your support that makes our work possible. During the 2021-22 financial year you – our UK supporters – helped us raise a fantastic £412,276 for Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia. From marathon running, to cake sales, your generosity and commitment has helped us to achieve this result. A special thank you also to all our knitters across the UK, thanks to their hard work we sent over 2,000 blankets to Ethiopia this year to give each woman that arrives at Hamlin a warm and comforting welcome.
Your support is especially appreciated at this time of increasing economic challenge.
Many of us are feeling the impact of the cost of living crisis and household budgets are stretched. However, the need in Ethiopia is still great with 70% of women giving birth without a midwife present and around 1,000 new fistula injuries each year. None of our vital work could happen without the support of our generous donors, who ensure we can continue to help as many women as possible.
I would like to say a heartfelt thank you for your commitment to helping women in Ethiopia.