The Hospital by the River by Catherine Hamlin, with John Little


  1. What was the reason Catherine and Reg spent so much time in Ethiopia?
  2. How did you relate to the early stories of Catherine’s marriage to Reg and the training and life of doctors at Crown St Hospital?
  3. When Catherine tells the stories of the fistula pilgrims, what impression do you get of life for women and girls in Ethiopia?
  4. As light is shed on the missionary history of both families of this devoted couple, are there equivalent stories in your own background?
  5. In chapter 8, Catherine tells of their first success. Why was the surgery so difficult do you think? Would we be as determined to succeed in a similar circumstance?
  6. What did you enjoy about Catherine’s description of life in Ethiopia?
  7. How did God provide for them and the hospital during the time of war and famine?
  8. When Richard was suffering a crisis in London while studying Medicine, did it bring to mind a crisis within your own family that you could share, where God brought about a transformation?
  9. The deprivations in the prison were described when the princesses were held after the coup. How would we cope in those sort of circumstances do you think?
  10. The surgical skill of the women who had come through the trauma of losing children and being terribly injured was astounding. Mamitu was one who assumed incredible leadership and devotion to Reg and the patients. What touched you most about her story?



The Hospital by the River – a story of hope by Catherine Hamlin

Hospital by the riverGynaecologists Catherine and Reg Hamlin left Australia in 1959 on a short contract to establish a midwifery school in Ethiopia. Almost 50 years later, Catherine is still there, running one of the most outstanding medical programs in the world. The Hamlins dedicated their lives to women suffering the catastrophic effects of obstructed labour. 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. The Hamlins have successfully operated on almost 30,000 women, and the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, which they opened in 1975, has become a major teaching institution for surgeons. Since Reg’s death, Catherine has continued their work. As well as being made a companion of the Order of Australia, being awarded the ANZAC Peace Prize and the coveted Gold Medal from the Royal College of Surgeons, Catherine was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999. The Hospital by the River is Catherine’s story.