BKFA Newsletter June 2015

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Remarkable Progress in Ethiopia

Recent training in the Afar Desert funded by the Birthing Kit Foundation (Australia) and run by the Afar Pastoral Development Association (APDA) has achieved outstanding results. In a one year a comprehensive programme, directed by the indefatigable Valerie Browning in 10 kebeles (neighbourhoods) of Dullassa, has empowered whole communities to stop harmful practices affecting females and leading to an improvement in their reproductive health. 

Steeped in illiteracy these communities clung to traditional practices that harmed birthing mothers leading to maternal and newborn death and injury. Women extension workers along with traditional birth attendants (TBAs) were trained and deployed as agents of change. They led guided discussions designed to improve reproductive health and to stop FGM (genital mutilation), early marriage and marriage by force. 19,740 women and girls and their families were taught life skills in health, hygiene and nutrition. 13,200 pastoralist women and their families gained awareness and assistance in stopping harmful practices and 960 mothers achieved a safer and cleaner birth by using a delivery set or, as we know it, a birthing kit.

Those affected by the harmful practices were assisted, protected and counselled, while those who performed the practices were advised and reminded that the government can prosecute them. The APDA also employed three women to assemble a total of 5,000 birthing sets or birthing kits in their field office. They were distributed to the trained TBAs in the program.

All of this was achieved despite challenges which included mediating with neighbouring communities, flooding rains and convincing sceptical mothers that a trained TBA is better than giving birth with no assistance at all. 

The whole program, created from the experience and earlier successes of Valerie Browning and the APDA, has highlighted the enormous value of training and birthing kits in this challenging desert environment.

To help support the work of BKFA in Ethiopia, please click here.

Now is a great time to donate to a good cause if you’re looking for ways to get an immediate tax deduction.
Every $3 you donate has the potential to save the life of a mother and baby. Click here to donate

We are delighted to introduce our new Program Manager, Zeshi Fisher. 

Zeshi is a wonderful fit for BKFA and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience.  She holds a Bachelor of Midwifery and a Masters of Health and International Development.  In addition, she has technical advisory, design and management experience on health and development projects in Africa and the Asia Pacific Region.  More specifically, she has worked directly in the field with BKFA partner organisations in both Timor Leste and Ethiopia, so she has firsthand experience of the conditions and challenges faced by our partners.


Zeshi brings new skills and experience to BKFA, that will be invaluable as we continue the expansion of our work, particularly in community development projects to support long term sustainability of improvements in maternal and infant health. 

You can look forward to hearing more about Zeshi’s work with our partners in coming newsletters.

On Mother's day, ASPIRE held its third annual birthing kit assembly day, with a turnout of over 40 students, mothers, and members of Zonta. We were incredibly lucky to have the project sponsored by Zonta and the UNE student services, as well as a talk from Dr David Browning about how exactly these kits will be used at their destination.
For the volunteers, it was a great opportunity to consider what the basic necessities of delivery were, as well as spend some time to sit and chat about maternal health. We were able to be actively involved in reducing rates of maternal and infant mortality in areas of need and the satisfaction of stacking our 10 boxes of 1000 birthing kits was a great feeling!
This is one of ASPIRE's biggest annual events and was a great success, and we look forward to doing it again in 2016!

To find out more about hosting an Assembly Day, please click here.
Copyright © 2015 Birthing Kit Foundation (Australia), All rights reserved.

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