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The Hospital By the River

February 14, 2017

Catherine Hamlin is now 93, and although she ceased doing surgery 7 years ago every day she still climbs up the steps from her house overlooking a small river, to check that all is well with The Fistula Hospital named after her and her deceased husband. We didn’t bump into her but the hospital is something amazing and the work here and also in the 5 outreach hospitals around the country is so very impressive. But the main thing the visitor gains is to see these women and girls, who arrive at the hospital in the most appalling condition now smiling, laughing and in many cases, helping at the hospital. The grounds are lush, the buildings clean and the staff seem proud of what they are achieving. Though there s still a lot to do with thousands of women with fistulas out in the country and as many as they put through surgery each year the same number of cases are happening anew. They have started up a midwives college the other side of Addis and 105 midwives have now finished the 4 year course and are out in the field educating and helping the locals. There are three wards in the hospital as well as a physio dept and a rehab dept that is helping train the women in ways to earn a keep once they return to the country. In many cases the released patients are set up close to an out reach centre in case there are more problems. 95% of the babies are still born because of the prolonged labour but it was nice to hear a few babies crying as we walked around. Some of the 5%. So if any of you are thinking of bequeathing what you have left to your dog or cat (heaven forbid) just think of this hospital and how it would help them

So here we are at the start of the Omo Valley. Abra Munch is the nearby town, our hotel is perched on the edge of the Rift Valley escarpment, a few metres from our rondavel a precipice beckons. In the distance are two lakes, Abaya & Chamo, filled with crocs and hippos. Wart hogs keep the grass down in the hotel grounds while vultures soar and swallows swoop above. Welcome back to Africa.

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