The Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital was founded by Dr Catherine Hamlin AC and her late husband, Dr Reg Hamlin OBE, and is dedicated to the treatment and care of women who suffer horrendous childbirth injuries, known as obstetric fistula.

Obstetric fistula is caused by prolonged obstructed labour when a woman will spend days in labour without any medical help or pain relief. If she survives this ordeal she will give birth to a still born child and her internal injuries will cause her to be incontinent of urine and sometimes bowel contents as well.

She will spend the rest of her life a destitute outcast unless she can get to the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital or one of its outreach centres.

The surgical technique developed by the Hamlins successfully cures 93% of obstetric fistula cases. The Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital has established a purpose–built village called Desta Mender ("Village of Joy") to provide long term care for women whose childbirth injuries are so severe that they cannot return to live a normal Ethiopian village life. At Desta Mender the women are trained in new skills so that eventually they can re–enter Ethiopian society as "citizens of the world" once again.

The Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital is committed to the UN Millennium Development Goals and particularly those directed towards – improving maternal health, reducing infant mortality and empowering women. It has established the Hamlin College of Midwives to train young Ethiopian women as midwives to work in the Ethiopian countryside amongst women who presently have little or no access to medical help during their pregnancy and labour. The mission of the Hamlin College of Midwives is to have a midwife in every Ethiopian village.

The Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital relies entirely on donations from overseas to fund its vital work of improving maternal health, reducing infant mortality and empowering women.

Over the years individuals and groups have started fund-raising for the hospital and later founded dedicated fund-raising trusts which enable tax-efficient giving. There are now eight of these. Their contact details are below. If you wish to make a donation to our work then it is best done through the appropriate Trust. Our UK, Australian and US Trusts can accept credit card donations from those domiciled outside their countries although these will not be tax-deductible. Each of them also has their own fund-raising activities and events, can provide information and welcomes offers of voluntary help.

Our international partner trusts each have their own boards which monitor funds and investments to the best advantage and in the absolute interests of the work here in Ethiopia.

Australian Partner

Hamlin Fistula Ethopia


For further details on the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, Dr Catherine Hamlin, the country of Ethiopia, fistula surgery, childbirth and maternal health in Ethiopia and the Hamlin College of Midwives, visit their website

USA Partner

Fistula Foundation

Founding and Early Years:
The Fistula Foundation was founded as American Friends Foundation for Childbirth Injuries in 2000 by Richard Haas and his daughter Shaleece. Mr. Haas was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia and returned with his daughter to visit the East African country in 1999. The Haases visited the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital and were moved by the oasis of healing created by Dr. Catherine Hamlin and her late husband, Dr. Reginald Hamlin. They returned to California and established a US-based non-profit dedicated to supporting the treatment and prevention activities of the Fistula Hospital.

In 2003, a highly praised New York Times Op-Ed by Pulitzer Prize winning author, Nicholas Kristof, lauded the work of Dr. Hamlin and raised awareness of and funding for the hospital. In January 2004, the Oprah Winfrey Show invited Dr. Hamlin to speak about the plight of fistula patients in Ethiopia. In the first six weeks after her appearance on the show, over 6,000 donors contributed $1.3 million through the Fistula Foundation to Dr. Hamlin's cause. That spring, the Foundation changed its name to the Fistula Foundation to more succinctly describe the organization's mission.

European partners:

Hamlin Churchill Childbirth Injuries Fund
Mr. Clive Hewitt
Bradfield House,
Popes Lane,
West Midlands.
B69 4PA
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Stitchting Fistula Hospital
Ms Jacqueline de Boer-van Maanen
Kennemerstraatweg 45
NL 1851 BA Heiloo
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Fistula e.V
Fr. Jutta Ritz
Neue Heimat 7,
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