As many of you know, the Zonta Brisbane Breakfast Club have been managing a Zonta birthing kit project since 2006.
A member of our club, Judi Hutchison, has recently returned from villages within the Western Province of Papua New Guinea where she and a nine member medical team supported by Talisman Niugini Ltd who has been a premium sponsor of the Zonta birthing kit project for the last 3 years, delivered health education and training, relationship building plus supplied Zonta birthing kits.
She shared her story about flying to the ‘wild west’ via Kiunga and then choppered over the dense jungles to two remote villages of Dahoma and Deberebip, without ready access to a hospital which was over a day away in a motorised canoe.
Most in the village had not seen a white person before. She was called a white meri (white woman) so there was a lot of staring and smiling as they became used to her presence.
She learned the Western Province handshake which was a great way to connect with the community. Dogs, cats, chickens and piglets wandered around the village.
Training, held under the house for coolness, involved both general and reproductive health.
She told the story of the Zonta birthing kit assembly days in Brisbane and with the medical team, an explanation of the use and disposal of the components (including trying on gloves) and presented kits to the village Community Health Worker plus to the women, a very special moment for Judi. Her language was translated to pidgin and then to their local language.
Reproductive health is normally a taboo subject! For birthing, the women normally walk into the jungle, which is very inhospitable ensuring not near hunting grounds or the village, as they believe it creates bad spirits. After the birth the women return to the village when all cleaned up i.e. the baby and her!
Talisman gave Judi the opportunity to meet the women who benefit from using birthing kits. It was clear there is a need for education and a hygienic approach to childbirth. There is even a baby in a Western Province village called Talisman, where a woman had used the Zonta birthing kit!