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Helping mothers around the world

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Continuing a tradition, members of the Adelaide Hills parish will honour Mother’s Day on May 12 in a different way – by digging deep into their pockets to support women giving birth in developing countries.

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For the past nine years the parish, together with a Hills fitness class, has supported the Mother’s Day Birthing Kit Appeal raising on average about $1100 each year. The donations are then presented to Adelaide High School, where students help to assemble kits which are distributed by the Birthing Kit Foundation Australia.

Liz O’Leary, who is a member of the parish’s Social Justice Committee, outlined the Mother’s Day appeal to members of the Diocesan Team during their recent pastoral visitation.

“Parishioners see the appeal as a very real way of helping other mothers in the world,” Mrs O’Leary told The Southern Cross.

“Some mothers ask their children that instead of buying presents for Mother’s Day to make a donation, while others give money in memory of their mothers who have passed away. Whatever the reason, this appeal has really clicked in the parish and we’ve had a great response over the years.”

The birthing kit project was established 20 years ago by the Zonta Club of the Adelaide Hills. It was so successful that in 2006 the national Birthing Kit Foundation was formed and today it has partnerships with more than 40 organisations in around 20 countries. About 200,000 kits are distributed annually.

As Mrs O’Leary explained, the birthing kits, which are valued at about $3 each, are “so simple” and yet can make a “huge difference” to a mother giving birth in an impoverished country.

“The statistics for women who die in childbirth are appalling. 830 women die every day from preventable causes and 99 per cent of maternal deaths occur in developing countries,” she said.

The kits include a large sheet of plastic (providing a clean surface for the mother to give birth on), some soap (to wash the birth attendant’s hands and the mother’s perineum), disposable gloves (to cover the birth attendant’s hands and provide protection from infections such as HIV), a piece of cord (to cleanly tie the umbilical cord), a sterile blade (to cut the umbilical cord and reduce the risk of newborn tetanus and sepsis) and gauze (to clear the newborn’s eyes and prevent infection).

Mrs O’Leary said Adelaide High had provided the parish with a short presentation to show how the donations were used which helped parishioners feel part of the process. Every year the parish is notified of the countries which have received the kits.

The Social Justice Committee, which comprises Mrs O’Leary and her husband Kevin, Renee Johnston, Cathie Oswald, Maria Thompson, Sue Arthurson and parish priest Fr Fred Farrugia, is very active within the parish and is responsible for several other projects. These include:

• the Make-A-Meal program, which sees parishioners making soup to be sold at low cost to parishioners and the money raised donated to organisations such as Catherine House;
• at Christmas time the offering of life-changing unwrapped gifts from Oxfam, Care Australia and Caritas as alternative present choices;
• supporting the Seeds of Affinity charity which assists women leaving prison.

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