One operation can repair a fistula. But that’s not the end of the story. 

Beyond the physical mending of scars and injury, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia provides rehabilitation programmes that help recovering fistula sufferers reintegrate into their community. For these women who have been shunned from society, this Hamlin Model of Care is a critical aspect of rebuilding self-belief and empowering women to live independently, with dignity and choices. 

Every woman who undergoes fistula surgery at a Hamlin hospital also receives counselling, physiotherapy and basic literacy and numeracy lessons. However, some women require a lot more support. 


From healing to independence

Opened in 2002, Desta Mender (meaning ‘Joy Village’) is a farm and training facility where up to 70 longer-term patients are provided with a counselling and skills training programme that is individually tailored to each woman. It has market gardens, an orchard and dairy farm as well as the Juniper Café where residents learn hospitality skills. The orchard and farm supply the whole of Desta Mender and the surplus is used in the main Addis Ababa Hamlin Fistula Hospital. 

Here, patients live close to the hospital whilst gaining independence and learning new skills for when they return to village life. If a patient cannot be cured and has to have a stoma, she needs ongoing access to clean equipment and ongoing medical care. 

Training can range from farming skills, child care qualifications or business skills. In some cases, this also includes provision of start-up grants to enabling women to establish their own business, generate an income and rebuild their livelihoods. It enables them not only to survive but to thrive.

Last year more than 600 patients completed skills training and handicraft education. 

Find out more about Desta Mender in the video below:

Rehabilitation and Reintegration at Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia


It’s time to re-write these women’s stories

Below is the incredible story of Beburuyosh who used her personalised Hamlin rehabilitation programme to successfully find her independence and rewrite her story.