Saving mothers, babies, and the planet

November 26, 2021 BY

Assembly day: Zonta Club of Ballarat president Caroline Nolan and Wendouree Cricket Club president Tim Argall put kits together on Saturday. Photo: ALISTAIR FINLAY

THE Zonta Club of Ballarat and the Wendouree Cricket Club have partnered to put together birthing kits, designed to decrease developing countries’ maternal and child disease and mortality.

Four hundred disposable earth kits including a biodegradable non-chemical plastic sheet and bag, soap, gloves, gauze, umbilical cord ties, and a sterile blade were assembled by 30 volunteers last Saturday at WCC’s CE Brown Reserve clubrooms.

They will be distributed by charity Birthing Kit Foundation Australia, of which the Zonta Club of Ballarat’s Val Sarah is an ambassador.

“The BKFA will plant 20 trees to offset our carbon footprint in the race to save our planet, so there’s the potential to save the lives of 400 women and their babies, and a modest opportunity to fight climate change,” she said.

“This is all within just two hours of a friendly atmosphere and vital collaborative partnership.”

The BKFA was established in 2006, but Ms Sarah said its “amazing” story began a decade earlier in Beijing, China at the 1995 United Nations Women’s Conference.

“One of the speakers was the actor Sally Field. She inspired Adelaide doctor and Zontian, Joy O’Hazy, with the idea that women in developing countries could survive birth in far greater numbers if they had access to a few basic, clean items.

“At that time, an estimated 600,000 women a year died in childbirth, around 99 per cent of these in developing countries. Many more became seriously ill due to lack of facilities, resources or trained medical professionals,” she said.

In 1999 Ms O’Hazy and the Zonta Club of Adelaide Hills began creating birthing kits to be sent to Papua New Guinea, before Zontians far and wide embraced the initiative and it went national in 2004.

“The birthing kit story has captured the hearts and minds of Zontians throughout Australia,” Ms Sarah said.

“The assembly days are a happy way to build relationships with men, women and school students in the community, and spread the word of Zonta’s mission along the way.”

WCC and Zonta funded 200 kits each. Nearly two million have been made for the Foundation to distribute. Nearly two million kits have been made for the Foundation to distribute.

WCC is a member of the Communities of Respect and Equality Alliance working to create a safe and equal society for women and children, free of violence.

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