Today’s New York Times includes the story of Dr. Catherine Hamlin, a gynecologist who has worked in Ethiopia for many years. She recently celebrated her 90th birthday, and she’s still changing women’s lives and providing hope. It’s an incredibly inspiring story, one that’s well worth the few minutes it takes to read.
Nicholas Kristoff writes:
“Catherine Hamlin, an Australian gynecologist who has spent most of her life in Ethiopia, is a 21st-century Mother Teresa. She has revolutionized care of a childbirth injury called obstetric fistula, which occurs when the baby gets stuck in the birth canal and there is no doctor to perform a cesarean section.”
According to the World Health Organization, as many as 100,000 women are affected by obstetric fistula each year. The condition results in health problems, shame and embarrassment, and even segregation from the community.
“These women are the poorest of the poor,” says Dr. Hamlin. “They’re alone in the world without hope, without friends. They bear their sorrows in silent shame. Their miseries, left untreated, are utterly lonely and lifelong.”
The op-ed piece describes Dr. Hamlin’s impact on over 35,000 women’s lives:
“Dr. Hamlin and her late husband, Reg, set up a fistula hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and their work proves that it is possible to repair the injuries cheaply. This hospital trained generations of doctors to repair fistulas and provided a model that has been replicated in other countries.”
Former patients now work side-by-side with Dr. Hamlin, and she has been been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her inspiring work.
Dr. Hamlin emphasizes the importance of continued work on maternal health around the world, including preventing and treating obstetric fistulas. Such work has the potential to change thousands of lives each year.
Here are four ways you can help:
1. Donate money to support Hamlin Fistula International, One By One, or the Fistula Foundation. About $500 covers the cost of one surgery, and every little bit helps.
2. Join with Every Mother Counts to make pregnancy and childbirth safe for all moms and babies around the world. You can take actions from learning more about maternal health to donating your old mobile phone.
3. When you shop online, consider doing so through Goodshop.com or iGive.com, where part of your purchase price goes to support a charity of your choice, like EngenderHealth, a group that advances maternal health and family planning around the world.
4. Advocate to support the efforts of Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro to pass legislation in support of obstetric fistula work around the world.