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The Hospital by the River: A Story of Hope [Paperback]

By Catherine Hamlin (Author) & John Little (With)
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Item description for The Hospital by the River: A Story of Hope by Catherine Hamlin & John Little...

Catherine and Reg Hamlin left Australia in 1959 on a short contract to establish a midwifery school in Ethiopia. Over 40 years later, Catherine is still there, running one of the most outstanding medical programs in the world. Through this work thousands of women have been able to resume a normal existence after living as outcasts. Catherine and Reg have successfully operated on over 20,000 women, and the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, the hospital they opened in 1975, has become a major teaching institution for surgeons from all over Ethiopia and the developing world. Since Reg's death, Catherine has continued their work, and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999. Set against the vivid backdrop of Ethiopia, this book is a moving and utterly compelling account of an extraordinary life.

Publishers Description
Gynaecologists Catherine and Reg Hamlin left Australia in 1959 on a short contract to establish a midwifery school in Ethiopia. Over 40 years later, Catherine is still there, running one of the most outstanding medical programmes in the world. Through this work thousands of women have been able to resume a normal existence after living as outcasts. The Hamlins, both committed Christians, dedicated their lives to women suffering the catastrophic effects of obstructed labour - a problem easily dealt with in the developed world by assisted delivery or caesarean section, but disastrous without medical intervention.The awful injuries that such labour produces are called fistulae, and until the Hamlins began their work in Ethiopia, fistula sufferers were neglected and forgotten - a vast group of women facing a lifetime of incapacity and degradation.

Citations And Professional Reviews
The Hospital by the River: A Story of Hope by Catherine Hamlin & John Little has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Library Journal - 05/15/2005 page 138
  • Christianity Today - 05/01/2005 page 60

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Lion UK
Pages   320
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.8" Width: 5.06" Height: 0.98"
Weight:   0.8 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 27, 2015
Publisher   Lion UK
ISBN  1854246739  
ISBN13  9781854246738  

Availability  0 units.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > General
2Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Professionals & Academics > Medical
3Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Specific Groups > Women
4Books > Subjects > Health, Mind & Body > General
5Books > Subjects > Health, Mind & Body > Personal Health > Women's Health > General
6Books > Subjects > Medicine > Administration & Policy > Hospital Administration
7Books > Subjects > Medicine > Specialties > Obstetrics & Gynecology
8Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Social Work
9Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Medical > Administration & Medicine Economics > Hospital Administration
10Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General

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Books > Inspiration > Motivation > Biography & Autobiography

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Hospital by the River: A Story of Hope?

What a great book!  Oct 7, 2008
I found this book to be educational, heart-warming, heart-wrenching and entertaining all in one. I enjoyed learning about the history of Ethiopia, its culture and its people. The Hamlins are amazing people who took their love of medicine and passion for helping others and have literally transformed the lives of women in Ethiopia who without a fistula repair would be shunned and destitute.

This is a great book, and I would encourage anyone to read it.
You are blessed with overwhelming riches. (me, too. Really)  May 31, 2008
It is said that in some parts of the world the foulest curse that can be uttered is "May you be born again as a woman!" and after reading this story, I now understand why. We in the developed world have no idea what it would be like to be an Ethiopian Woman: betrothed as a toddler, married at nine (the groom promises not to have sex with his bride until she is "old enough." - ha, ha.), pregnant at twelve and left for four or five days, utterly alone, to try and give birth unaided. As in the developed world, many babies are not in a position to be born easily, but unlike here, there is no sterile hospital and a doctor ready to perform a C-section. A girl has no option but to push and push and push until she gives birth to her baby (who has been dead for days by this time) or until she dies.

Death would be the kinder route, once you learn about the mission of the Doctors Reg and Catherine Hamlin. As the poor undeveloped, undernourished girl pushes for days, the corpse of her child causes horrific injuries to the woman's body. She is left leaking urine and often, feces, with no control over her body whatsoever. In a land where water is scarce for drinking and nonexistent for bathing, and where a man wouldn't dream of trying to buy some rags for his wife to keep clean, life becomes a torment that a woman prays would end every day. She is no longer allowed indoors or near other people. Her husband, who has to have at least one son to secure his own future, abandons her and finds another child-bride. Her mother (if she hasn't died in childbirth herself) will probably allow her to return to her home village, but she will be banished to a ragged lean-to that she builds herself with castoffs. Speaking of castoffs, that is all she will be allowed to eat and wear. So she lies completely still, because of an old wives tale (even though there are few old wives) saying that a girl who lies still enough will eventually heal. She may lie this way for twenty years or more, and healing never comes.

If a miracle happens, she hears about the Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa. Her injuries, which we now now are called Fistulas, will be healed and she will be able to return to her people and her village, ready to begin life again. The Doctors Hamlin, devout, old-world Christians, dedicated their lives to these poor, forgotten souls. Once Fistulas were as common in Europe, Australia and the US as they are in Africa today, but minimum marriage ages and proper care during childbirth have so solved this problem that the Hamlins had to develop methods of surgery to cure this condition. In the past sixty or so years, they operated upon and cured at least twenty thousand women, all while the world passed them by.

Dr Catherine Hamlin describes a childhood in an Australia that is long gone, and a life that is as full of hardships as any western doctor has ever lived, but she speaks of her life with joy and a devotion to G-d and the women that have no voice, even in their own homes. Dr. Hamlin, devoted and saintly as she sometimes is, can drive you (me) batty with her old-fashioned ways. She and her husband had a motto: these women want what every woman wants -- a live baby in her arms. They were horrified by the 'free love' of the 1960's, and spoke with great reverence for the last Emperor of Ethiopia, before he was overthrown.

I loved the book, and was moved to tears at the plight of these poor young women. I admired the dedication of the Hamlins, especially during their early years in Ethiopia, operating in the corner of another hospital, with thousands of injured young women coming to them, and their attempts to create a hospital of their own. I admired them even more during the years of war and revolution in Ethiopia, while they tried to get supplies and continue their work while under constant threat of death.

If you want to be touched and discover once again how lucky you are (and if you can read this, you are darned lucky, I guarantee it), then this book will make you feel gratitude and compassion for your fellow human beings, no matter where they live. If you think that this is just some sob story, then read the book anyway -- you need to have your soul touched, and I guarantee that this is the book to do it.
All who read "Hospital by the River" liked it very much  Feb 2, 2008
I and my friends who have read "Hospital by the River" have all liked
it very much. It tells about an Australian couple
trained in obstetrics who went to Ethiopia and established aa hospital
to help woman in Ethiopia who had suffered the bad effects of early
child bearing. I believe it shows how the Christian life should be lived.
Amazing  Jun 18, 2005
This book tells a remarkable story. It is the autobiography of Dr. Catherine Hamlin and the work she and her husband have done to establish a hospital treating obstetric fistula in Ethiopia. What an amazing story. I had never heard of obstetric fistula till a few days ago. I did not know that so many young women (girls, really) in some parts of the world have child birth complications that cause holes in the vagina through which feces and urine leak constantly, leading to the women becoming abandoned pariahs. And the repair surgery costs only about $300 -- but this was essentially unavailable until the Hamlins came to Ethiopia in 1960. What wonderful work they have done, along with their wonderful, competent Ethiopian staff and colleagues. In addition to that basic theme, Hamlin tells an engrossing story about the overthrow of the emperor, the years of communist regime (many of her friends were murdered), and then the current improved situation. What a story! This book about her faith and her work is well worth reading. I hope many, many people enjoy this book and are inspired to donate to this hospital.
Inspiring and compelling memoir of hope in times of despair  May 2, 2005
Seldom has a missionary painted such a compelling portrait of hope from darkest despair as Dr. Catherine Hamlin in her inspiring memoir, THE HOSPITAL BY THE RIVER. When she and her husband, Reg, embarked on their careers in gynecology in Australia, they never dreamed their work would eventually take them halfway across the globe to the third world country of Ethiopia to establish a teaching hospital.

Ethiopia's insistence on child-brides and the poor obstetric care in that country is responsible for the high incidence of women who suffer from fistula, a childbirth injury that results in constantly running urine and terrible internal injuries. The personal stories of these women as told by Dr. Hamlin will break readers' hearts. Divorced by their husbands and rejected by their families, many of these injured women live out the remainder of their lives ostracized alone in dark rooms --- all for want of an operation costing only a few hundred dollars.

A simple operation can alleviate their suffering, and most women are curable. (Hamlin takes payment in everything from live chickens to jewelry.) But although two million women suffer from fistula, less than 7,000 are treated each year. The challenges to create a hospital that serves these women --- and then maintain and finance operations --- are formidable.

Hamlin's descriptions will move even the most jaded readers to tears --- and sometimes to a queasy stomach. In one gruesome anecdote, she tells of a woman mauled by a hyena while giving birth (the hyena ate her baby while she was helpless to protect it). However, Hamlin wants us to understand the depth of this despair so difficult to relate to --- the horrific conditions these women live in --- in order to arouse our deepest compassion for their suffering.

In one memorable passage, she describes the life of one such outcast, discovered in a village by a medical worker:

"...They reluctantly showed her a side room. Inside it was dark, and the smell was almost unbearable. In the far corner, against the wall was a raised platform. Peering through the gloom they made out a woman lying on her side with her legs drawn up in a flexed position. Her bladder and bowel contents were leaking into a pool underneath. Because she had been in this position for five years the joints had become stiff... and she could no longer walk...."

This woman --- like more than 20,000 others --- was cured by Hamlin and her team.

This is a book of contrasts, from the gatherings thrown by royalty to the extreme poverty that most of the people of Ethiopia experience. Although the reader has to mine a bit too much detailed memoir to get to the good storytelling, it is well worth the effort. Her tone throughout is one of gratitude. Hamlin is quick to offer copious amounts of praise for others, even those who have perhaps wronged her in some way. She is vulnerable about her own shortcomings, especially as a parent.

Almost four decades after her work began, it's understandable why Hamlin has been called "The new Mother Teresa for our age" by the New York Times, and nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. This fascinating account of Dr. Hamlin's work will break your heart --- and offer hope that even the worst circumstances can be changed if we care enough to help. Keep the Kleenex handy.


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