Obstetric fistula is a devastating medical condition which affects mothers during childbirth. There’s no subtle description for it: a fistula (hole) develops between the birth canal and either the bladder or rectum (or both), and is usually caused by days of obstructed labour without adequate medical care, when the pressure of the baby’s head against the mother’s pelvis cuts off blood supply to the surrounding tissues.
Nearly all affected women are afflicted with urinary and/or faecal incontinence, foul smelling discharge, irritation and infections, as well as suffering stillbirth and ensuing infertility. If that wasn't traumatic enough, as they are unable to control their flow of urine, the result is an offensive odour that they are unable to rid themselves of. Most women are then sadly abandoned by their husbands and families, and ostracised from their communities. It is the social isolation, stigma and loss of dignity that leaves the most damaging scars – the unimaginable suffering these poor, humiliated women endure is truly heartbreaking.
Obstetric fistula is not a pretty story, but it is such an important one to tell, as it is almost entirely preventable. It is considered a disease of poverty because of it’s tendency to occur in women in poverty-stricken countries, such as sub-Sahara Africa, who do not have the health resources like we are so fortunate to have here in Australia.
Described by The New York Times as a modern-day "Mother Teresa", the remarkable Australian obstetrician Dr Catherine Hamlin is a two time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and now at 92 years of age, has selflessly devoted almost her entire life to healing mothers in Ethiopia, suffering from obstetric fistula.
Dr Hamlin arrived in Ethiopia in 1959, with her now late husband Reg Hamlin, to set up a midwifery school; but they were so taken with the fistula patients they met (an affliction they had never encountered before), that they stayed and founded the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital together in 1974.
Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia (Australia) is an Australian charity dedicated to supporting Dr Hamlin's work and her network of healthcare facilities; including over 550 Ethiopian staff servicing six hospitals, a rehabilitation centre and the Hamlin College of Midwives. There are currently 34 rural health centres staffed by Hamlin midwives. Midwives in these centres are preventing hundreds of maternal and neonatal deaths and are saving many mothers from suffering devastating childbirth injuries.
So far over 50,000 African women have received free medical treatment, counselling and loving care – all funded purely on philanthropic donations from generous donors.
The amazing duo Marika and Lisa
Bringing together the finest of Australian talent and design. All in the name of compassion...
Thoughtfully curated gifts from a selection of their favourite people, places and brands are on offer for you to purchase from their store.
All proceeds are promised to Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, so if you are lucky enough to clinch one of their lust-worthy/ conversation-starting pieces, you'll also enjoy the goodness and warmth that comes from supporting a most worthwhile cause.
Some gifts have only one available, so get in quick!
We at Oobi are so excited to be part of an the amazing fundraising Initiative founded by two amazing women, Thank you Marika and Lisa for truly making a difference:
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