Birthing Kit Foundation (Australia)

The BKFA works with organisations and communities to provide a clean birthing environment for women in developing countries in order to reduce the incidence of infant and maternal mortality. We respect peoples' dignity and values and work according to principles of basic human rights. We raise awareness, provide support and resources and act as a catalyst for the creation of birth attendant training programmes and community development projects.
Nov 12, 2012

Help Pigmies - the most impoverished in DR Congo

Pigmie woman asleep in her home
Pigmie woman asleep in her home

Thank you for helping the Pigmies who are the poorest and most disadvantaged people  in DR Congo. The life of a Pigmie woman is difficult, with marriage often at 13, and they are the main workers in the family, carrying heavy loads on their backs from an early age. Their home of North Kivu Province is very remote with war still a constant in their lives.

The Pigmie people are nomadic people with illiteracy at 99% as they believe school is a waste of time. Basic hygiene is non existant with 99% of births are at home.

Thank you for helping to fund the midwifery, health, hygiene and nutrition training seminar. It ran for 3 days with 100 traditional midwives from the 10 villages of Kasenyi, Bushara, Bukumu, Bugeregere, Byungo, Karubamba, Muja, Karungu, Kanyati and Mutaho in North Kivu province being the recipients.

These communities are so remote that the trainers had to travel 400 kms to Goma the venue for the seminar. The Pigmies themselves were transported up to 70 km by motor bike to the venue. This is a region that is still at war and soldiers accompanied the trainers and the women for their safety.

Dr Luc Mulimbalimba Masururu on an earlier visit had observed that hygiene was non existant, they birthed onto leaves, used sharper leaves to cut the umbilical cord or else repeatedly used a dirty blade for several deliveries, and there was no hand washing. The people sleep on leaves in rudimentary huts with dirt floors. They are lucky to have one blanket. They go for months without washing and smell offensively. They have skin diseases and infections purely from the poor personal hygiene.

The hotel they were booked into for the seminar, refused their accommodation as they were so dirty and smelly that other patrons at the venue would have left. Dr Luc fortunately found alternative accommodation at short notice.

The first day of the seminar was on hygiene and Dr Luc was thrilled when  they all came the next day bathed and clean. There is no lack of water in DR Congo as there are many rivers, they just had no idea that bathing was necessary or beneficial to their health.

2000 birthing kits were made at Luvungi Hospital, DR Congo, with the contents being locally sourced and 2000 kits came from Australia. Each birth attendant left with 40 kits.

Dr Luc established midwifery clubs so the birth attendants could meet monthly to reinforce their lessons learned. It is an opportunity for fellowship and exchanging of experiences. There was so much learned at the seminar, however, being illiterate they could not read the information again, so the midwifery clubs are important reinforcement opportunities.

The seminar was so successful that Dr Luc is looking at holding another one next year.

Pigmies receiving birthing kits from Dr Luc
Pigmies receiving birthing kits from Dr Luc

Links:

Aug 14, 2012

India - 200 poor women in Tamilnadu get the birthing support they need.

Training of birth attendants
Training of birth attendants

Thank you to our supporters who helped fund 200 women in Tamilnadu State being trained in basic maternal and infant health. Women trained came from 100 villages in 3 regions, Chidambaram (40 villages), Kattumannarkoil (40 villages) and Viruthachalam (20 villages). The last training made 200 volunteers and midwives aware of the safe delivery, referral services and the use of birthing kits. They also stay with the new mothers for 1-2 hours after delivery and visit for 5-10 days. Now more women are seeking immunization and antenatal advice. It's basic health, and can save lives!

Poor women get no basic health education and there are almost no facilities for poor women giving birth. Where there are health options women often do not take them out of ignorance and fear. Basic training and the provision of birthing kits to provide a clean birthing environment for women giving birth at home is a great way to make changes at a grass roots level.

 A basic health training programme trains birth attendants in all aspects of maternal and infant health and provides a support service to birthing mothers, making sure they have help in the early days of their new arrival. They also encourage immunization and antenatal checks.

Elements of the training get embedded gradually into the community. Once a birth attendant uses a birthing kit and sees the clean environment it creates she will never attend a birth without one. It is her encouragement to use immunization services and antenatal check ups that also leave a permanent message in the minds of the mothers of the area.

Mrs A Victoria, President SWEAD was "Thrilled with the training in the area. Since the training no women and only one baby have died. It is a huge improvement."

Links:

May 14, 2012

Maasai Mara women learn new ways for better health

Dr Luc with Maasai Birth Attendants
Dr Luc with Maasai Birth Attendants

Thankfully with your help we have now been able to hold training for another 80 traditional birth attendants in the Maasai Mara communities in Kenya and to take the opportunity to monitor the impact of the last program for 80 women.

Location is Maasai Rift Valley Province, Narok – South District, Mara Division, Koyiaki Loction and Talek Sub-Location, Kenya

Our agent, Dr Luc, was surprised at how the people had taken on board his recommendations. “My greatest joy and satisfaction was that the first seminar had so much impact on the lives of the traditional midwives and the entire Maasai community than even I had imagined and I was so much surprised at the great stride the Maasai women had made in changing some of their hazardous traditional believes and encompassed new modern ways for the sake of their health.”

Our BKFA training programs focus on improving maternal health along with general education on health, hygiene and nutrition.

Impact of the training was not just in childbirth practices. In his words

1.      “Most of the women and the village at large were no longer going to the bushes for ¨long calls but they had built up communal latrines that they were using. This is as a result of our last seminar where we showed them the importance of having latrines and the many advantages of having a clean and safe environment and to my surprise they had taken every detail into consideration.”

2.      “The Maasai traditional women now take bath on a daily basis not like in the past days where they could shower once per week ……….but when I visited them again they had completely changed and were looking very smart.”

3.      “Before, they could not eat chicken because they believed it is a bird, they took fish for snake and could not even eat greens saying they are just bush leaves but all that is now gone with the past and they have wholly taken to new and better styles of living.”

4.      “At least they had the Maasai sheets to change for clothing, courtesy of BKFA and they were very much impressed to see us and had lots of fond memories of the last seminar. They were so happy and delighted and greatly thanked BKFA.”

“The road to Maasai Mara was very long and tiresome but am so grateful to God that we were able to reach Maasai Mara without any problems. The educators taught very well and the traditional midwives were very very excited. I found that they had a very big problem of birthing kits, the expectant women had gotten used to giving birth by use of the birthing kits but when the kits got finished, it became a little bit difficult for them to continue with work well but by good luck, we had taught them on the means of using the locally available materials for birthing so when the kits got finished this came in handy.”

The importance of sustainability and need for education in using local resources.

“This is very great news for us and we are filled with so much joy to realize that the efforts we put in went into a worthy course. Am so grateful to the Birthing Kits Foundation Australia for supporting the first and the second seminars. Thank you so much for this big role you are playing in the society of ensuring clean and safe birth for every woman.”  Dr Luc

Thank you to our supporters for enabling us to hold this most worthy and needed training program.

Links:

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