Sunday, 21 August 2011

Zonta Birthing Kits - 4000 kits on their way to Ethiopia

"60 million women give birth each year with the assistance of a traditional birth attendant or no assistance at all"
Coming from a country where we have sophisticated hospitals and "machines that go bing", it is easy to ignore how giving birth alone, in a remote location, would be in terms of pain, cleanliness, and personal assistance.

Rotary supporters having fun while packing kits
One of the biggest events for the year in my Zonta Club is our Birthing Kit Packing Day. Every year we organise a large community session, in collaboration with many supporters, and pack 4000 kits to send to a developing country. This year our kits went to the Hamblin Foundation Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa.

Let's have a look at the history and what's involved. The whole story is pretty complicated, so watch the videos to see the kits, how an assembly works and why the kits are important.

Zonta Birthing Kits are the brainchild of Dr. Joy O'Hazy, a member of the Zonta Club of Adelaide Hills. She had travelled and seen Sally Field in the US supporting birthing kits and was inspired to devise her own system. She devised a kit and began working with reproductive hospitals in Papua New Guinea to get the contents, methods and training right. Enthusiastic with their success the club supported the project and got it off the ground for Zonta Clubs across Australia

Supported with a government grant from AusAID, the club was then able to establish the Birthing Kit Foundation - a separate entity with the sole purpose of managing this project. The Channel 10 TV show: The 7pm Project recently aired a 3 min piece that introduces these ladies and the Foundation. (2012 UPDATE: This video is no longer available)

Have a look at this longer video from the Birthing Kit Foundation which highlights the need for the kits and also shows how an assembly day works.

On Saturday, 30 July my club conducted its annual birthing kit packing day. To fund the purchase of the kit materials from the Foundation we raised over $8,000 which included donations from :
and support from the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Lyneham for the free use of their hall, and for organising the refreshments (YAY, Cake!)

Have a look at this short video from Queensland ABC News which shows the huge day organised up in Brisbane:

The organising committee in my club spent many hours over several months getting our day together - you can see all the materials that have to be organised, a pallet load full! The co-ordination is extraordinary - tables, ice cream containers, boxes, cakes, advertising, volunteers - I can't explain the extent of the organisation. Below I have put a few photos of our 2010 and 2011 days.

If you are here in Australia and would like to attend a packing day, the Birthing Kit Foundation maintain a Facebook page and this list of upcoming packing days across the country. Contact them and go! go now! Packing days are an unique experience - no where else can you do this - and you'll be supporting women across the world to have a clean birth.

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