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She's on trip of a lifetime thanks to a second-hand book

INSPIRATION: Hayley Piggott is fulfilling a life-long dream of travelling to Ethiopia after the influence from this book her grandmother gave her.
INSPIRATION: Hayley Piggott is fulfilling a life-long dream of travelling to Ethiopia after the influence from this book her grandmother gave her. Shayla Bulloch

IT ALL started with a second-hand book which sparked a fire of helping others inside a little girl who didn't favour reading.

Fifteen years later, Central Queensland woman Hayley Piggott is embarking on the trip of a life-time to quench the thirst of helping women less fortunate in Ethiopia.

Hayley and her younger siblings grew up on the 48,000 hectare family farm near Rolleston helping their parents run the 53-year-old cattle station.

Due to their remoteness, Hayley completed her studies through distance education and the limited resources from their local Rolleston library.

In a household of avid readers, Hayley never indulged in the hobby although her grandmother, Joan Black, delivered them boxes of old novels every week.

"We received boxes and boxes of books and so every time she came to visit mum had to build another shelf,” Hayley said.

It was in one of these piled boxes that 10-year-old Hayley stumbled across The Hospital by the River.

Written by Dr Catherine Hamlin, the novel depicts her travels to Ethiopia in 1959 on a short contract to establish midwifery schools.

Founder Catherine Hamlin on her visit to Ethiopia in 1959.
Founder Catherine Hamlin on her visit to Ethiopia in 1959. Shayla Bulloch

Forty years later and Dr Hamlin is still there running one of the most advanced medical programs for that part of the world.

Dr Hamlin and her team established the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital and 5 regional hospitals, which has assisted over 50, 000 women who have suffered from childbirth injuries such as obstetric fistula.

This is a result of prolonged and complicated labour stemming from a lack of maternal health care in the country."

The result of this damage is often ostracisation from community, diseases, incontinence and often death.

The book ignited a passion inside Hayley who researched what she could do to help those in need.

Now the 25-year-old is on her way to Ethiopia in November on a on a 17-day trip to Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia to visit the place it all started

"It was always in the back of my mind as I grew up,” she said.

"I remember looking on their website seeing how I could help and seen a link to get involved.

"But I wasn't expecting a trip to Ethiopia.”

A mother and bub at one of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia's hospitals.
A mother and bub at one of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia's hospitals. Amber Hooper

The Australian charity will take 17 adventurers to Ethiopia to visit the main hospital in Addis Ababa, the regional hospitals, interact with patients and indulge in the history of the cause.

Hayley said she was excited about the life-changing trip to see the transformation of patients and see in the flesh what stemmed from a modest book.

"No woman deserves to be ostracised in her village due to her condition and every woman deserved access to maternal care and education,” she said.

"An old second-hand book has made a difference to me and is about to make a huge difference to women in Ethiopia.”

Hayley has worked tirelessly to hit her fund-raising goal of $10,000 and has smashed it with two months still to go.

People from all over the state had pitched in to help Hayley meet her target.

"A lot of people don't even know this problem exists so it's important to raise awareness for this issue,” she said.

"I've had donations from so many people who I can assure all the proceeds are going straight to Ethiopia.

"Majority of the money goes straight into paying for surgeries, physiotherapy, education and midwife training.”

In her quest or donations, Hayley said forced child marriage was often a misconception for the cause of obstetric fistulas.

Founder of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, Catherine Hamlin with patients
Founder of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, Catherine Hamlin with patients Joni Kabana

She explained 5% of labours worldwide were obstructed and it was only 3% higher for younger mothers with the average age of patients at 22 years old.

Hayley said any remote region manned with a hospital midwife had severely less cases of obstetric fistula.

Previous patients were even trained up to be midwives through the charity's midwifery school.

Hayley said she wondered what her future would look like on her return saying a career in medicine may be on the horizon.

"I really want to quench this thirst for knowledge and I'll either come back wanting to do medicine or not,” she said.

Hayley leaves on November 12 and urges anyone who wants to give these women a chance to donate.

"No one should have to live in that sort of a state and you wouldn't put up with it if it was our neighbour,” she said.

"There is plenty of medical advances that need to be worked on in Australia too but I don't think anyone deserves to live like these women do.”

Donate on her EverydayHero page at https://adventure-2017.everydayhero.com/au/hamlin-fistula-ethiopia

Topics:  catherine hamlin charity ethiopia hamlin fistula hayley piggott medicine midewifery obstretic fistula rolleston



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