Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Sonya Felton Hands over Sale Proceeds

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Sonya Felton Hands over Sale Proceeds

Article excerpt

The proceeds from the sale of one of Sydney's hottest properties are being handed over to help some of the world's poorest and most desperate women.

Businesswoman and former South Sydney councillor Sonia Fenton had lived in the glamorous The Quay apartments at Circular Quay for about eight years when she heard of the life-changing work being done by an Australian obstetrician in Ethiopia.

On a whim, she flew to the African nation to see for herself the hospital that Catherine Hamlin, who has just been nominated for this year's Nobel Peace Prize, set up 40 years ago to provide medical services to poverty-stricken women suffering from damaged bodies after childbirth.

Ms Fenton was so moved by the experience that on her return, she put her apartment onto the market. She settled on the sale of the property last month and is now donating $1 million to the charity.

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"When I came back from seeing what incredible work is being done to save the lives of women in the most agonising hardship, I realised how many more lives could be changed with a little more help," says Ms Fenton, 69, a former banker.

"I read Catherine's book about her life and the lives of these women and sobbed over every page. So really, it was an easy decision.''

The hospital treats women with obstetric fistula, which occurs when childbirth causes problems with the bladder and/or rectum where there is no adequate medical care. As a result, the women suffer severe urinary or rectal incontinence, and are often abandoned by their husbands and cast out by their families and communities.

A $600 operation can completely transform their lives.

As a child, Ms Fenton had an ovarian cyst. "I had the best medical attention and parents who doted on me,'' she says.

"These women, on the other hand, have pee and poo running down their legs, no running water and no one to help them. …

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