In light of TERREWODE’s recent procurement of land for the future TERREWODE Women’s Community Hospital in Soroti, we here at TERREWODE are looking back down the long road that has led us to this important milestone.
While TERREWODE has been committed to developing a women’s hospital in Uganda for over a decade, we cannot take all the credit behind our vision. Perhaps our greatest inspiration has been the world-renowned fistula hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia. Back in 2013, the Worldwide Fistula Fund sponsored a delegation of Ugandans, led by TERREWODE Executive Director Alice Emasu, to visit Hamlin. The goal of the trip was to provide TERREWODE with an opportunity to study the Hamlin model of care to help support and inspire TERREWODE’s vision of establishing a similar hospital in Uganda. Alongside Emasu, four other delegates, including David Amudu, TERREWODE Board Member, Moses Muitwa, TERREWODE consultant, Livingston Emasu, engineering consultant and Bonnie Ruder, co-founder of the Uganda Fistula Fund for TERREWODE participated in the visit.
During the trip, Emasu and her team had the opportunity to tour both Hamlin’s main hospital complex in Addis Ababa as well as a smaller regional fistula center. Emasu recalls, “we toured the maternity and fistula wards and were impressed by both the cleanliness of the space and the kindness of the staff. We interacted with patients. And then, of course, there was the design of the facilities, which were quite outstanding and unique in the way they provided a calm, tranquil atmosphere to promote quick recovery. It truly felt like a home.”
Emasu and her team also had the opportunity to meet with the leaders responsible for Hamlin’s continued success, including Dr. Catherine Hamlin, co-founded of the hospital. Dr. Hamlin explained the model of care behind her hospital, while Emasu and her team explained their vision for a devoted women’s hospital in Uganda. “We quickly came to the consensus that the Hamlin model was the best model out there and the one we wanted to replicate,” Emasu tells me. “We liked everything we saw and felt it was the most practical model out there.”
Dr. Hamlin, too, supported TERREWODE’s vision, telling her Hospital representative to “support these people [TERREWODE]. Let us aid in their efforts to go and help women in Uganda who are suffering from obstetric fistula.”
“She [Dr. Hamlin] is the mother of all mothers,” Amudu remembers fondly. “I don’t recall her ever pausing for a moment to rest while we were there. Early every morning we would find her in the ward, doing rounds and greeting everyone. She does that every day. That’s a very unusual quality for someone that high up in an organization.”
The 2012 trip marked TERREWODE’s first visit to Hamlin. The Hamlin Fistula Model of Care has since become the foundational cornerstone behind the vision of excellence TERREWODE seeks to replicate in its future Women’s Community Hospital.