A Walk to Beautiful

A Walk to Beautiful

2007, Society  -   36 Comments
Ratings: 7.42/10 from 24 users.

A Walk to BeautifulAyehu, Almaz, Zewdie, Yenenesh and Wubete suffered through prolonged, unrelieved obstructed labor in a country with few hospitals and even fewer roads to get to them. Although they survived the often-fatal childbirth experience, they were left with a stillborn baby and feeling, as Ayehu tells us, that "even death would be better than this."

The obstructed labor has left each of them incontinent. We discover Ayehu, 25, living in a makeshift shack behind her mother's house where she has hidden for four years, shunned by siblings and neighbors alike. She hesitantly begins her journey on foot, but once she arrives at the Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa, she realizes for the first time that she isn't the only person in the world suffering from this problem. At the hospital we meet Almaz, a woman also in her 20s who was abducted by her now-husband in a village market and has suffered from double fistula for three years.

Zewdie, 38, has five children longing for their mother to be well. Though abandoned by her husband, Zewdie is supported by the strong extended family that surrounds her. As for Wubete and Yenenesh, both 17, early marriage and their small physical stature (the result of undernourishment and heavy labor) determined the tragic outcome of their first pregnancies.

For these two girls a cure is not simple. We're with them as they struggle with disappointing news and later as their youthful determination triumphs. We follow each of these women on their journey to the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, where they find solace for the first time in years, and we stay with them as their lives begin to change.

More great documentaries

36 Comments / User Reviews

Leave a Reply to Kelly K. Cancel reply

  1. millie

    this is heartbreaking those beautiful girls.god bless em and dr hammill for starting the hospital.wish I could do something to help.

  2. Dee Dee

    Wubete: I stayed with the fourth one because I became pregnant" She is now 17 so couldn't be more than 15 at the time with 4 husbands !. That just broke my heart. It really did

  3. said mail

    You need not go down the path of "What if we had something WORSE than religion?" That obviously would be bad. But if you ask "Would we be better off without heart attacks?" you don't respond "Yes, of course, but what if we had cancer instead> That would be even worse, so heart attacks may not be so bad."

  4. said mail

    When you subscribe to an established religion, you have only two options. You can become an i*iot, or you can become a hypocrite. If you’ve already chosen the former, I’ll explain why, and I’ll use small words so that you’re sure to understand.

    First, there’s the idiocy route. You can willingly swallow all of the contrived, man-made drivel that’s fed to you. Accept that the earth is only 10,000 years old. Believe stories about dead bodies coming back to life. Learn about various deities and such. Put your trust in someone who thinks they know what they’re talking about. Eat your dogma. Good boy!

    Congratulations! You’re a ***** believer. You’ll be saved, enlightened, and greeted with tremendous fanfare when you die… unless of course all the stuff you were taught turns out not to be true. Nah… if the guy in the robe says it’s true, it must be true. Ya gotta have faith, right?

    Next, we have the hypocrisy option. In this case your neocortex is strong enough to identify various bits of utter nonsense in the religious teachings that others are trying to ram down your throat. You have a working B.S. detector, but it’s slightly damaged. You’re smart enough to realize that earth is probably a lot older than 10,000 years and that pre-marital (or non-marital) sex is a lot of fun, but some B.S. still gets through. You don’t swallow all the bull, but you still identify yourself as a follower of a particular religion, most likely because you were raised in it and never actually chose it to begin with.

    To you it’s just a casual pursuit. You’re certainly not a die-hard fundamentalist, but you figure that if you drink the wine and chew the wafer now and then, it’s good enough to get you a free ride into a half-decent afterlife. You belong to the pro-God club. Surely there’s safety in numbers. Two people can’t be wrong… although 4-1/2 billion supposedly can.

    In this case you become an apologist for your own religion. You don’t want to be identified with the extreme fanatics, nor do you want to be associated with the non-believers. You figure you can straddle both sides. On earth you’ll basically live as a non-practitioner (or a very sloppy and inconsistent practitioner), but when you eventually die, you’ve still got the membership card to show God.

    Do you realize how deluded you are?:)

  5. said mail

    The Abrahamic organized religions - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, are readily seen to be a force hindering society. These religions attempt to maintain outmoded and harmful social norms. They are, as a whole, extremely sexist against women and propagate ideas that keep women (and everyone) down, like banning abortion and contraception. To varying degrees they reject scientific knowledge such as evolution. These religions are generally close-minded and hinder society's advancement with their reactionary mindset.
    Islam is against polio vaccinations in the Middle-East, Buddhists are conducting holy war in Burma, Catholics do whatever it takes to stop Birth Control and condoms in spite of the AIDS epidemic, Christian Fundamentalist in the U.S. spend millions of dollars trying to destroy science, and almost all religions except for some are violently opposed to Women's reproductive rights and Gay Rights. We also can't overlook the countless religious persecutions that occur around the world by all religions. So yes, I say that religion is holding society back from it's full potential.
    As long as this world contains multiple religions that each claim their god to be the one and only true god then each one of those religions will have a tendency to defend their god even by killing. Monotheism seems to lead to one thing, death. It creates an aura of self-righteous arrogance in many followers of each religion that in turn creates intolerance toward others who believe differently.
    All it does is promote ignorance and hatred towards others. Religion has never contributed anything positive, and should be abolished from the world. It’s time for mankind to start thinking for them, and to stop being led around like sheep by the imaginary words of an imaginary thing. I agree with banning all religion totally. The land occupied by the churches and Mosques, and temples, etc. could be put to better use! like helping out the homeless, the abused, the poor, etc.
    While we're at it, the Vatican should be raided and all the money given to the poor buggers it was stolen off in the first place and all the priests, Sheik, bishops, and the pope held accountable for their crimes against humanity! If all religions were banned across the country, who could possibly complain about that.. I,m ex-Muslim young atheist from ethiopia

  6. greyspoppa

    @Teferi A BIT extreme but wonderful REPRESENTATION??????????????? 1st: this is an actual persons life not a "representation" of a persons life. 2nd: And what she had to go through is extreme to the trillionth squared not a "bit" extreme.

  7. JSmile

    I cried my eyes out...

  8. princesspatricia

    Again to reconfirm just how blessed we are to be in a country like Canada and to give thanks to the LORD each and every day for good health and health care.

    1. Achems_Razor

      Your "Lord" has nothing to do with our Canadian health-care! it is our taxes that pays for such! And our due diligence.

      Tell your "Lord" to put his money where his mouth is. Money talks and bull-$h1tye walks!

    2. greyspoppa

      Again to reconfirm just how arrogant/ignorant your comment truly is, this LORD your giving thanks to, is letting it go on in Africa. Have you ever put down that awesome mythology book, the FAITHFULL call the bible, and just use your mind and think before you write crap like this(OMFG i just saw your name lolololololololo-rotfrotfrotf-lololololololol your kidding me) Just got my answer!

    3. princesspatricia

      In response to you greyspoppa....... have you ever read the BIBLE? The things that are occuring within this world were long ago foretold by scripture, it is only now that some of them are being revealed to us. Perhaps you should give it some thought and read Revelations. You will find alot of detailed scripture that is present today.

    4. avd420


      Every generation since the bibles inception has been claiming these are the end-times and saying what is happening in the world has been foretold in Revalations.

      They were all wrong, so why do you think you are right?

      Take a closer look at the world, it's better than it has EVER been in history.

      Thanks God? I pay taxes for that health-care there's no need to thank god.

  9. MaryanO

    Great video, thanks to the doctors and all the staff,,special thanks to Dr. Catherine Hamlin, she is a wonderful person. I suffered rectal vaginal fistula here is Canada after childbirth. I had two unsuccesful operations then last year 2010 went to the same fistula hospital and i was cured. I did see the women there who were suffering and was heart broken, even forgot myself that i was suffering cause their cases were worse than mine and the most devastating is to see young girls going through it. I dont know how to thank everyone there, they made my life better now and I can feel like a woman again. God bless them all. Thanks to you, Mary Olive Smith for a great job.

  10. Ade Speed

    This is heart touching. It is sad that poverty and culture make suffer the poor women.

  11. Jeibou

    Very sad indeed. Special thank to the producers.

  12. Teferi

    A bit extreme but wonderful representation. The biology of Festula is simple but its social and psychological impacts are very complex and often hard to explore.

    Please donate and work on changing peoples' perception and attitude about Festula at the community level side by side helping the suffered.

  13. Mariar

    This was a sad yet a touching story of how some people are God Earth Angels, helping other threw Love and Kindness.

  14. dbjohn

    This is a powerful piece. It's very sad at times but it is extremely uplifting at others. Healthcare and education is the answer to this problem. These women are pushed into adulthood to fast. The culture in the rural areas is outdated and must be changed.

  15. Kelly K.

    B Liu: Yes, birth control would be very helpful here, I agree.

    On the other hand, I don't think birth control is really practical here in this situation. The men especially wouldn't go for that. Women are made for making babies, especially in poor countries. A woman that can't have a baby is almost worthless. I noticed they told the women "WHEN the next baby comes and you feel the baby walking in your stomach, then you start walking to this hospital." I thought it sad they didn't even say "If" you have another baby, but "when". I assumed for a c-section.

    I think the solution here is better health care in general and education of basic problems of childbirth and what to do when a woman can't bring that child into the world. Just think of all the women that must have died in childbirth there as wel that we didn't even hear about. This really is a wonderful documentary.


  16. B. Liu

    It's truly amazing and touching. Waht a walk to beautiful. Should the birth control has been introduced to those families, there will be much less tragedy like Futsula happen. They also need feminists there for those poor women.

  17. Kelly K.


    Thank you for adding this documentary to your featured docs. The picture of Wubete with the child after her surgery and new life is very moving. I think this is the most heart-touching documentary I've seen so far on this website. You are very much appreciated!


  18. sadhikar

    I think that local development offices in ethiopia could make the video of this documentary and shown in all the rural areas, so that those vulnerable women are educated. The people in the rural areas could better learn that the sickness/illness is curable and it's not born out of godly sins so that they have to be segregated as non-human. This kind of situation prevails not just in ethiopia's countryside but in lot of other underdeveloped countries. So, it would be nice if all those privileged could give some hand to the unprivileged. Even a small step could make a difference.

  19. Charles B.

    Karen: Upon a night of further contemplation, I think "Yes, I could be more gracious and humble hearted" in this particular case. I'm only human. Nonetheless, I would also suggest so could you. To suggest that anyone be less "rightous" is very bad in my opinion. Perhaps you meant "self-righteous" which is not a positive attribute while true "righteousness" is.

  20. Charles B.

    Karen: That was rude. No I shall not stop being "righteous" in any way. I was just pointing out that much of the kindest and the most giving among us are Christians whether you like us or not and "or not" seems to be more than prevelent on this particular website.

    Have a little Christian grace of your own and discern the heart of one who loves people and does his best to encourage as many as he can in every way he can. You actually hurt my feelings with that one. Honestly.

  21. Karen

    1959. Come on Canada. Step Up.

  22. Karen

    Charles Christians want to be known by their love. They do nice things from their heart in private not for recognition or for others to blatenly point it out to rub in anothers face. Have Christian grace and stop being so rightous. You know god will seek the non believer out at his will. He knocks.

  23. Karen

    I have never heard of this problem before. So many women, so few doctors. The numbers are more than the time that the few that are helping can deal with. I challenge any Gynecologist out there to volunteer some service to this poor country. If each doctor in the country went for 1 week to assist many would be cured in no time flat.

    Poverty sucks, and causes so much pain in so many ways. Please share your gifts.

  24. Charles B.

    I had no idea what a fistula was until I watched this doc. How horrifying it would be to have pee constantly pouring from your vagina, or poop, or both! :-o That's how I understood it. After your baby was stillborn, nonetheless.

    The men who abandoned thier wives after this happened to them need to be castrated so that they can never impregnate another!

    Oh, I noticed the hopspital was a Christian out-reach, by the way, or I think so. They called that one lady "sister" I believe. You might not always like Christians and what they believe, but many of us are truly "servant-hearted" and that is the truth.

  25. Achems Razor

    I watched this Doc.

    It is heart wrenching. I knew about fistula's, but not quite in this way.

  26. Kelly K.

    Can this be posted as a featured doc? Every man especially needs to watch and know this story.


  27. Kelly K.

    Any man who would abandon his wife or lover to a "hut" for the rest o her life "to die" alone and in shame after not being able to give birth to his child is hereby cordially invited to have my "fistula" firmly emplanted in his insensitive "facetula"! :-(

  28. Catfish

    Hey Dread... I understand your sentiment, but reading your other comments I can see you are perhaps part of the problem. Please tell us who this "white man" you mentioned in another post is? Could you be a racist hiding behind the mask of the victim? Such a massive generalization such as the "white man" could not come from someone without some prejudice. Do you understand?

  29. Achems Razor


    Thank's for sharing that with us, truly! :D

  30. Micaela

    God bless those people who dedicate their time and effort to those who are in need of help.

  31. Ness

    Truly wonderful! I really wanted to watch this so I kept watching even though I needed to pee until I coughed and peed in my undies . . . truly! ;-) I have sympathy for them after two children of my own, but I don't have a fistula, thank God! :-)

  32. dread

    What Marvelous endeavors we could achieve, If we man kinds comes to gather spite of race & instead of one dictating the other.........