Hope, Confidence, Independence

I interviewed 5 patients at Desta Mender: Two new patients, two small business participants, and one small businesswoman living and working off site. Names have been with held at the request of the patients.


On the left is a 19 year old woman from Ambo. The total time she has been at the Hamlin and Desta Mender is 18 months. She visited Desta Mender two months prior to her first Surgery for pre-counseling. She has sustained 4 surgeries to try to repair her fistula. The 5th surgery she was fitted with a Colostomy bag. She is happy to be at Desta Mender and prefers to be here over going home. She knows about the training program and is interested in becoming a vendor for grains and teff. She was married and is now divorced due to her medical condition. She heard about the Hamlin Fistula Hospital on a radio program and came to the Hospital to be repaired.

On the right is a 20 year old woman from Osama. She came to the Hamlin Fistula Hospital 8 months ago, sustained 2 surgeries and was fitted with a bag on the third. Before the first operation she went back to her village to tell her mother of her diagnosis. She spent 8 years in her village living with her condition before coming to the hospital. She was referred to one of the outreach clinics and a charity organization collected her from the village and brought her to the Hamlin. She is excited to learn new skills as a vendor. She has prior vendor experience selling beer in her village.


This story had me in tears. This 30 year old woman has been at Desta Mender for 7 years. The Dairy farm has been in operation for 8. She lost her parents at a young age and was living with an Aunt. After she lost her child, she lived by herself in a hut for 8 years. Relatives would throw her food. She required intensive physical therapy as her legs were not working properly from curling up in a fetal position to try to stop the leaking. A doctor heard about her and sent a bus to bring her to the Fistula Hospital. Zuriash describes her as brave, smart, competent and loves to learn. She is now the accountant for the Dairy farm and loves to visit her village to show how well she has done.

I interviewed one of the women running the Juniper Cafe. Three women running the on site cafe will start a catering business in the community. She did not want to be photographed. A news crew had interviewed the women at the cafe and the segment had run within Ethiopia. People from her village had seen the news segment and now believed her to be rich. When she first came to Desta Mender she was a little confused as the pre-op introduction was not in place at that time. She appreciates what she has but when asked if she is happy she responds, I was happiest before when I was healthiest. She visits her family once a month every year. She has 4 siblings, her mom, and her dad. She lives in a poor area with no access to medical care. When she developed the Fistula her father brought her to the hospital. She is 23 years old and has been at the hospital for a total of 5 years. Zuriash describes her as confident with her new skills, kind, positive, patient and helpful with other students. She is in Grade 5 and is successfully operating a small business.


I interviewed a former resident who is now living independently 3k from the hospital, renting an office and an apartment. She is from Arsi Bale, is 40 years old and has been at the hospital for 5 years. She received 2 years training and has worked 2 years in tailoring and supply for the hospital. She is an independent contractor. The hospital supplies the fabrics and the sewing machine, and pays her for time and material. She supplies the hospital with New dresses, Bedsheets, Outgoing pajamas, Masks, and OR Gowns. She works 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. It was hard to learn but now it is fine. She makes her own dresses and will sometimes repair her friends clothes when they are broken.

One thought on “Hope, Confidence, Independence

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s