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Abinet, a recent graduate from the Hamlin Rehabilitation and Reintegration programme, has just embarked on a new chapter of her life. After a nine-year journey of recovery at Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, Abinet is now cured and has big plans for the future.

Having recently completed the three-month Rehabilitation and Reintegration programme, Abinet has returned home and is about to start her very own business.

Overcoming adversity

Growing up in a rural village has had its difficulties, but none that Abinet could not overcome. The only child in her family, Abinet was raised by her mother and enjoyed all the things childhood had to offer. But sadly, this all changed when Abinet lost her mother when she was 12 years old.

Not long after, the grade five student was forced to leave school as a result and was cared for by her neighbours. Then, when Abinet was just 14 years old, she suffered an obstetric fistula. With the right access to maternal healthcare, this childbirth injury is entirely preventable. However for Abinet, access to maternal healthcare in her rural village was very limited. As a result, like so many other women in similar contexts, she was prepared to give birth at home.

Abinet quickly began to face complications during childbirth. Once her labour began, it lasted four days. Shortly into her labour she was taken to a nearby government clinic for medical assistance. As her condition continued to deteriorate, she was referred to the closest hospital, but it was too late. On the way to the hospital, Abinet gave birth to a stillborn baby. Grieving the loss of her baby, Abinet also suffered from a fistula.

“My husband and I first thought the incontinence was the effect of the hard labour. We went back home expecting it would stop soon, but it continued for over two weeks. The leg contracture resulting from the long labour made it hard for me to manage the incontinence and I was fully dependent on my husband’s care,” Abinet remembers.

In search of a cure

With no improvement to her condition, Abinet and her husband decided to visit a second government hospital where she stayed for the next month. Abinet’s ever-increasing medical bills drained their savings, and she was still without a cure. Finally she was referred to Hamlin’s Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital. Her transformation since arriving at Hamlin has been remarkable.

“When [Hamlin’s Medical Director], Dr Fekade, told me about the kind of surgery that I am getting, I told him what I want is only a cure, I am sick of leading frustrated life. As you see me now I am a happy woman dreaming big to change my life and lead a life as equal as my peers,” Abinet explains.

Over nine years, Abinet has received multiple treatments and surgeries to correct her fistula and the nerve damage which resulted in leg contractures. But her treatment extended beyond surgical repair, as part of the Hamlin Model of Care. While at Hamlin, Abinet underwent Hamlin’s Rehabilitation and Reintegration Programme at Desta Mender. Here, she was equipped with the skills and training to learn how to run her own business.

Today she returns home empowered to realise her dreams for the future. Hamlin facilitated seed money for her to start up a business.

“Emaye [Dr Catherine Hamlin] is as precious as a diamond for us, helping in regaining our precious life through free, holistic and motherly care. My heartfelt gratitude goes to her first, then to the doctors and nurses and all the Hamlin staff dedicated to our cure,” says Abinet.

To help women like Abinet, please consider supporting the life-changing work of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia. Donate today. 

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