Devoted to helping women and babies 12,000kms away

20 Mar
Judith McMonagle with photos from her trips to Ethiopia. Picture: Vanessa Gillam

Judith McMonagle with photos from her trips to Ethiopia. Picture: Vanessa Gillam

By Vanessa Gillam, Bond University Journalism Student

A single book profoundly changed Judith McMonagle’s life forever.  She read Hospital by the River by Dr Catherine Hamlin and was so inspired Judith has now devoted her life to helping women in Ethiopia.

The 73-year-old and has been to Ethiopia five times since 2007 and has plans to return later this year to help women who suffer from a condition called Obstetric fistula.

This terrible condition occurs when girls whose bodies are not fully developed give birth.

“Consequently in delivery with the pressure of the baby through the contractions, a hole is worn in the bladder and sometimes the rectum,” she said.

“They continue to leak unless they can get to the hospital to have this surgery.

“The husband no longer wants anything to do with them and the baby has died every time.”

Dr Hamlin has established the main Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa as well as five others in rural towns such as Bahdir, Yirrglam and Harer.

Judith has supported the work of the Fistular Organisation in Sydney (the Australian branch of Dr Hamlin’s work) and seen the results first hand.

She also works with others to directly supply funds, clothes and school furniture to Ethiopians.

A photo of a baby being delivered on newspaper was a catalyst for Ms McMonagle’s actions.

“They didn’t even have a cloth to wrap the baby in and that has really tugged at many heartstrings,” she said.

Since that day she has strived in working with others to provide each child born at this Ethiopian health centre with a baby wrap, jumper and beanie.

They also send clothes for children and underwear for the adults and nuns.

“The people are so poor we can’t imagine how destitute they are,” she said.

Judith also volunteers at Angel’s Kitchen in Southport where she serves food to the homeless

She speaks to women’s groups and is organising the Big Breakfast that will start at 7am on May 3 at 8 Reynolds Avenue, Labrador.

Money will be raised for Ethiopia by a gold coin donation for breakfast. Judith can be contacted on .


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