In November, 2010 I headed to Ethiopia to begin a photo documentary about midwives as a sustainable source of reproductive health care. Ethiopia has some of highest maternal and infant death rates in the world. On average, 670 mothers will die from birth for every 100,000. Women often face serious birth injuries, including obstetric fistula, which leaves women incontinent and in public shame.
To promote sustainable reproductive health care, The Hamlin Fistula Hospital has combined forces with the Ethiopian government and now running the Hamlin College of Midwifery.
Each Year, representatives from the college head out to high schools to speak about the program and recruit new students. After an applicants grades are checked, they must pass an exam to be admitted into the college. Completely free, recruited students attend the college from all over Ethiopia, living in dormitories on campus, then returning to the regions they are from to work as midwives. After 4 years of school, students graduate with a minimum of 40 live births.
Due to a combination of cultural/religious influence and poor access to health care or clinics, 95% of births happen at home without a trained birth attendant and often without running water or electricity. An unassisted birth is very dangerous. Often complications cause the average birth to last five days, greatly increasing the chance for birth injuries and the death of the baby, mother or both.
The college just graduated its first class of 11 midwives in October of 2010, only weeks before we arrived there. The program has built clinics and dormitories for the graduated midwives in remote areas to help make reproductive health care more accessible to the rural population. The midwives provide education, family planning and health care to expecting mothers.
The Hamlin College of Midwifery needs your help!
Medical supplies and financial donations are need to help support the operation of rural health clinics where midwives are currently working.
Hamlin Fistula Hospital and Hamlin Midwifery College Needs:
$3000 for 1 Student for 1 year at the Midwifery College
$8 buys a blanket for a new patient, 20 are needed
$2 buys plastic slippers for patients without shoes, 300 are needed
$4.50 buys a nurse uniform, 20 new uniforms are needed
The USA Hamlin Fistula Fund is being setup right now. Until it is up and running please use this page for your donations:
Hamlin Fistula Make a Donation