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From fistula to freedom: Asmira’s story

Asmira, 40, pictured, lives in a remote village in Ethiopia’s North together with her husband Lemma. They have been happily married for 25 years and have two daughters.

Asmira and her husband
Asmira and her husband outside their home

But unfortunately Asmira’s third pregnancy ended in tragedy when she suffered a stillbirth and fistula.

Asmira lived with her fistula for a long time, and from her remote community did not know where to access help. She told us:

“Before my fistula surgery and rehabilitation I had nothing to eat or wear. We used to live by luck. We spent all the money we had searching for a cure for my fistula”.

Eventually her family heard about Hamlin’s treatment programme at Bahir Dar Fistula Hospital, and after saving up for the journey and making the long trip to the hospital, Asmira was able to have her first surgery, free of charge.

Unfortunately, her condition was complex, and as is with a small percentage of women each year, Asmira’s fistula and incontinence could not be completely cured. However, the nurses and doctor at Bahir Dar counselled Asmira to provide her with the option of having diversion surgery to provide her with a stoma which would cure her incontinence, and give her a new start at life.

Surgery, seed funding – and a new start

Five years ago, she took the decision to have diversion surgery at Hamlin’s Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital and was provided with extra support for her recovery at Desta Mender rehabilitation and training centre. After her training, she received a supported return home with seed funding (c.£300) to invest in a business.

We recently went to visit Asmira and see how she is doing at her home farm.

Asmira with her cow
Asmira shows the Hamlin team one of her cows on the family homestead

Asmira and her family showed us around their new home and she explained:

“Since my surgery and rehabilitation training my life has changed. The education I received equipped me with confidence to fight for my rights and resulted in the legal return of farmland that had been taken from me after my fistula.

Now together with my husband I harvest enough food to feed my family. With careful management the seed funding I received from Hamlin five years ago has now grown and I have constructed a new and better home.”

Her husband Lemma, who has stood by her side throughout added:

“Because of her devastating fistula, for so long my wife was restricted to the home, unable to support herself let alone the family. Now after her surgery and support from Hamlin she can visit markets with friends, go to church, eat and drink whatever she wants and protect her health.

The seed money you gave her changed our life. We have been working hard to raise our income. I work on the farm and she handles the market each week. Currently we have enough food to feed our family for over a year, we have a new house, two cows and planted cash crops on our farm. The seed money was the start of all of this. You brought happiness back to our home and I can’t thank you enough for your supporters’ generosity.”

Asmira and her husband
Asmira and Lemma thanking the Hamlin team for our supporters generosity

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