Women of Vision report from Ethiopia
All the Charlotte travelers have arrived. We spent Orthodox Easter together at church with Dr. Hamlin and her son Richard. Then it was a quiet afternoon walking around town as most Ethiopians were celebrating the breaking of their fasts – no meat during lent and no food since Good Friday. There are sheep, cows and chickens being slaughtered everywhere. Friday and Saturday we saw the herds all over town in preparation. Piles of skins were on the street corners Sunday. It is not a good weekend to be a sheep! About 40% of Ethiopians are Orthodox, so this does impact many families. Our hotel lobby was full of the smell of incense as part of the beautiful coffee ceremonies each evening. My favorite part (other than the strong Ethiopian coffee) was the popcorn they serve with it.
Today we head out to visit the Hamlin Fistula Hospital and midwifery college. Dr. Hamlin is remarkable, 88 yrs old and still doing one surgery a week. There are around 40 women/girls recovering at any one time and a total of 150 patients on the grounds pre and post op as well as rehab, Many girls need PT because they have not walked for so long, lying still hoping that will stop the leaking urine.
Sadly, the hospital is embroiled in a conflict around its Christian heritage. Some of the European donors are not happy it continues to retain its Christian heritage. Succession is also an issue and the question is how to move on from the founder’s leadership. Dr. Hamlin will soon be made the second ever Western person to receive Ethiopian citizenship – quite an honor. She has also recently been recognized by the Queen of England for her remarkable work which includes the hospital, a rehab facility (Desta Mender) , 5 new regional health centers and a midwifery college now graduating 24 students a year who are deployed to the regional centers. Each woman/girl who is treated is care for with such dignity. The idea is to eradicate obstetrical fistula (no longer seen in our Western developed countries) by providing trained birth attendants and access to obstetrical health care. It is possible to eradicate – we have done it in our own country!
The midwifery program is replicating too, and there is interest in establishing a similar model in S. Sudan. This could be a fantastic project for Women of Vision in conjunction with a possible new Australian WOV program. Whoo hoo!!
Please keep the hospital in your prayers. This good work for thousands of Ethiopian women and girls is at risk and clearly there is evil afoot to seek and destroy what has been an amazing and redemptive ministry in this country.