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Buritu is from a remote village in Southern Ethiopia’s Sidama region, where she works farming her family’s small plot of land. She had an arranged marriage when she was 16 years old as is the custom in her community, and had a happy life managing her home. Soon after, her first pregnancy brought a baby girl and joy to her and her husband.

A different journey ahead

However, when Buritu became pregnant last year with her second child, she faced a different journey ahead. Her pregnancy progressed normally, but when she went into labour in her remote village, the birth was obstructed and lasted too long. Buritu was taken to her nearest government hospital and tragically had a stillborn baby by cesarean section.

“At first I was just happy that I had stayed alive and so was my entire family. But then I started to feel wetness down my legs. I thought it might be the aftermath of the long labour and hoped it would stop soon. But that didn’t happen and by the time the doctors told me I had a fistula, I felt ashamed of myself and wished I had died with my baby. I never believed I would get a cure.”

Buritu, fistula patient

Fortunately, the government hospital provided Buritu with a referral to Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, thanks to Hamlin’s work with the Ethiopian Government Health services to raise awareness of our work and to ensure more women in need are referred. Buritu decided to return home to her mother’s hut to rest at first, and her husband stayed with her and cared for her until she felt ready to travel to Addis Ababa.

“I am lucky that I have a caring husband. He spent all the day at home washing my clothes, feeding and secretly taking care of me until we headed to Addis Ababa with no one in the village knowing.”

Buritu, fistula patient

Treated with love

In June 2020 Buritu arrived at Hamlin’s Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital together with her husband, where our Medical team stepped in. “At first my husband didn’t want to leave me alone at the hospital, but when he saw more women like me being treated with love by the staff, he felt confident and went back home.”

Some women’s fistulas can be very complex, however Buritu was fortunate to have an injury that was treated with her first surgery. By the time we spoke to Buritu in late June, after just three weeks she had recovered and was completely dry and preparing to leave the hospital the next morning.

Buritu at Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia
Buritu in the ward at Hamlin’s Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital

She told her us her husband had already arrived in Addis Ababa to take her back home and was waiting in the city downtown, excited to see her.

“I was not expecting to be cured within such short period of time. This hospital is unique in that it provides a motherly care free of charge and brings back dignity for poor women like myself. You have given my life back, which is an unreturnable debt. I can’t thank you enough for what you did to me and many more women like me.”

Biritu, fistula patient

Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia is working to find and treat the countless women who, like Buritu, have suffered in silence from the indignity of fistula. You can help care for fistula patients like Buritu by donating today.

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