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18 years with a fistula

During her first pregnancy, Beburuyosh had an obstructed labour that lasted four agonising days. Whilst 5% of women globally experience an obstructed labour, access to maternal healthcare will mean the difference between life and death.

With no access to a skilled birth attendant, on the fourth day of labour Beburuyosh tragically gave birth to a stillborn baby. She was left with an obstetric fistula. Beburuyosh had severe internal damage, particularly to her bladder. On top of losing her beloved baby, she was left permanently incontinent of urine.

Constantly leaking urine and with an unbearable lingering odour, Beburuyosh felt worthless and ashamed. Whilst she was lucky to have a supportive husband, father and sister, she still felt isolated and could no longer contribute fully to her village community.

Beburuyosh lived like this for a staggering 18 years.


Hope to heal 

In 2014, after hearing about Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia in her village, Beburuyosh travelled to the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital. Due to the severity of her fistula injury, and the fact it had been left untreated for so many years, Beburuyosh’s condition was complex.

Obstetric fistula can often be repaired with just a single operation. Beburuyosh however had to have five surgeries.

Her fifth and final diversion surgery was a success.


Beyond the physical mending of scars and injury…

Although Beburuyosh’s final surgery was a success, her injuries were so severe, she required extensive medical treatment. Beburuyosh was sent to Desta Mender for further rehabilitation.

Desta Mender was opened by Dr Catherine Hamlin in 2002. It is Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’s farm and training facility where longer-term patients are provided with counselling and a skills training program that is individually tailored for each woman.

Training can range from farming skills, child care qualifications or business skills training. In some cases, this also includes start up grants to establish their own business, enabling women to generate an income and live independently.

Dr Hamlin has always believed that treating a fistula patient isn’t just treating a hole in the bladder but rather the whole patient.


From fistula sufferer to successful farmer 

As part of her tailored counselling and training program, Beburuyosh undertook animal husbandry training in order to better manage the livestock on her farm back home in Fiche (about 150km from Addis Ababa).

Upon completion of her training, she returned home to her family.

Beburuyosh is now able to apply her knowledge to her own farm, which is flourishing, and in turn, has passed her knowledge on to other farmers in her village.

“I’m very happy (to be back home) living with my husband and family.” – Beburuyosh

Returning back to her village equipped with better farming techniques to pass on to her community is a dream Beburuyosh never thought was possible. She is empowered and independent – a far cry from her 18 years of shame and isolation with a fistula.


Watch a short video about Beburuyosh and Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’s Rehabilitation and Reintegration program 

Rehabilitation and Reintegration at Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia


Thank you for helping Beburuyosh reintegrate into her community with dignity and choices.

It’s time to rewrite more women’s stories.

If you’d like to make a tax-deductible donation to help empower more women like Beburuyosh, please make a donation.


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