I was saddened to learn of the death of Dr. Catherine Hamlin on March 18th 2020. Dr. Hamlin was a renowned obstetric fistula surgeon and a revolutionary human being who dedicated her life to giving marginalized women access to the maternal health services they deserve. She was also a great inspiration to my life.
I first learned about Dr. Hamlin in 2008 around the same time I learned about Anafghat Ayouba and was ultimately introduced to the world of obstetric fistula. As a young advocate, Dr. Hamlin's dedication stuck with me and still serves as a constant reminder of what change can be brought about in the world when we have the desire to address a problem and the discipline to carry out the tedious, and sometimes gruelling everyday tasks, required to make it happen.
Dr. Hamlin was unrelenting in her fight to bring an end to obstetric fistula. She once said: "When I die, this place will go on for many, many years until we have eradicated fistula altogether- until every woman in Ethiopia is assured of a safe delivery and a live baby."
As a result of her struggle, today Ethiopia has five obstetric fistula treatment centres strategically located throughout the country, as well as the Hamlin College of Midwives.
Unfortunately, I was never able to meet Dr. Hamlin, as much as I had longed to. When I visited the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in 2012, she was away on travel. Still, the facility bore witness to her hard work and sacrifice. I was in awe. My meeting with two young patients Asris and Emewedat further compelled me to engage in the combat against obstetric fistula. Dr. Hamlin was a remarkable human being whose love knew no limit. Her legacy will live on forever in my heart and in the hearts of many. Her legacy already lives in the thousands of women and girls she cured. She led a beautiful life and changed our world for the better. I love and honour you Dr. Hamlin. May you rest peacefully knowing that you were a true vicegerent of God during your time on earth. #ThankYouCatherine 🌸🌸 #EndFistula 🌸🌸🌸
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Habiba Cooper Diallo
I am a Canadian end fistula advocate and blogger, and the founder of the Women’s Health Organization International, WHOI. I have been doing fistula awareness-building in Canada for the past 12 years. My work on fistula has led me to Ghana, Senegal, Guinea, Ethiopia, and Sierra Leone. I have been featured in Forbes, the HuffPost, and UNFPA