Making a difference: kits help with birthing

ST Mary Star of the Sea students involved in Zonta International's Z Club are ready to help women in Third World countries have safer childbirth experiences.

Z Club helps students develop leadership skills and encourages participation in service projects.

St Mary Z Club president Stefanie Mitrevski said second term would start with a new event in Wollongong.

The club met every Tuesday and it was not uncommon for up to 40 students to attend.

"We have had overwhelming support this year with our club expanding to be one of the most well attended in the school," she said. "Our first project of 2014 was the Zonta annual pizza day, which raised $465 towards the birthing kits that are going to be put together at our school.

"The kits [which include a plastic sheet to create a clean birth site, soap, gloves, gauze squares, cord ties, clamps and a sterile scalpel blade all contained in a small press-seal plastic bag] will be sent overseas to help assist safe birth for mothers and babies in Third World countries."

The initiative is the latest in a number organised by Z Club members. Last November, they were joined by other teachers and students wearing orange shirts and ribbons on White Ribbon Day to form a giant "NO" across the playground to draw attention to violence against women and girls.Another Z Club initiative in term two was an Australia's Biggest Morning Tea event for the Cancer Council.

Zonta Club of Wollongong president Sheldri Weston said it was great to see the Z Club members doing so much.

She said Zonta was involved in many local projects including scholarships for female students at university and TAFE.

"And for the first time this year, in April, we are opening up an indigenous award for girls in year 12," she said.

"It is open to all schools in the Illawarra. We are also supporting White Ribbon Day and the women's refuge here in Warilla.

"We also donate to the Mother and Child Safe Room at Wollongong Court House. The children are often in the safe room all day while their mothers, who are victims of domestic violence, are in the court.

"But our other exciting new project this year is the birthing kit assembly day on the 17th of May. We will be part of a huge international project to fund and finance the birthing kits, which will be sent all around the world.

"Often the kits are hiked three days into the jungle in places like the Congo. It is really exciting to hear that they get to have a safe, clean birth."

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