My name is Dr. Ambaye Woldemichael and I have been practicing for 27 years. I trained under Dr Catherine Hamlin, whose vision I share of an Ethiopia free from fistula. I have been working with Ethiopiaid for the last 5 years.
I am serving women who are victims of obstetric fistula in Africa especially in Ethiopia for more than 2 decades. Curing fistula patients is like giving a new life to the women. We perform operations on women with obstetric fistula, urinary incontinence and pelvic prolapse. We also work on outreach programs to try to get the word out to women in rural areas, many women do not realise they have fistula or that it can be cured.
Before they come to us, the women are living in isolation and shame but here, they meet others like them, they realise they are not alone and that there is hope. As the women rest and heal we provide them with activities to help improve their life-skills, things like literacy, sewing, knitting and embroidery. They also have the opportunity to avail of counselling to help them heal from their traumatic experience.
When they are cured the women are very happy. As their clothes are often soiled because of their previous incontinence we give them a new dress to wear home.
I would like to see all women would be able to give birth in health facilities and reduce obstetric fistula. I would also expect to have many trained doctors and those women who developed obstetric fistula will get the service in the near by hospitals.
Every time I welcome a woman who has travelled the long hard road, both physically and mentally, to reach the clinic, it is not just the medical staff who will save her but you too. I know that you are standing behind us providing your loyal support. This gives my team the comfort and strength we need to continue.
I cannot thank you enough.