The concept of the Birthing Kit began in 1995, when Adelaide Doctor, Joy O’Hazy, attended the United Nations Fifth World Conference on Women and heard Sally Field speaking about a similar kit she had seen in Nepal. With the idea that hygiene was key to improving maternal and newborn survival in low resource settings, Joy developed the Birthing Kit – a small zip-lock bag containing six basic and clean items to be distributed to women and birthing attendants in low-resource and emergency settings.
In partnership with the Adelaide Hills Zonta Club, Joy and the dedicated volunteers began assembling and distributing these simple kits around the world. The scale and impact of this project continued to grow and what was once known as the ‘Zonta Birthing Kit Project’ transformed into the Birthing Kit Foundation Australia in September 2006.
Since our establishment, the team at BKFA has worked to extend and enhance our reach, forming strong partnerships with many Field Partners in the Sub-Saharan Africa, Asian and Indo-Pacific regions. Our work has expanded from the original Birthing Kit Program to a range of Community Development Projects that engage individuals, families and communities to create sustainable change and improve maternal and newborn health outcomes.
Milestones and Key Achievements
1999 – First 100 kits, packed by the Adelaide Hills Zonta Club, are distributed in Papua New Guinea.
2005 – Over 120 000 Birthing Kits have been assembled and distributed through Zonta Birthing Kit Project.
2006 – The Birthing Kit Foundation Australia is officially established as a for purpose charity
2007 – The organisation becomes a signatory of the Australian Council for International Development.
2009 – Ethiopian Field Partner, Afar Pastoralist Development Association (APDA), becomes the first partner to locally produce birthing kits with the support of BKFA.
2010 – The Australian Defence Force delivers around 40 000 BKFA Kits to war-torn Afghanistan.
2011 – Kits are now delivered overseas by airfreight rather than by sea.
2012 – The 1 millionth BKFA Birthing Kit is made! Fundraising events become more exciting, with a supporter organising a Kokoda Trail Trek for BKFA and raising close to $10 000!
2013 – BKFA works with Dr Luc Malimbalimba Masururu and his organisation, Mission in Health Care and Development (MHCD) to run the first “train-the-trainer” program in DR Congo.
2014 – MUN Australia comes on board as a major sponsor and donor of gloves for Birthing Kits.
2015 – A record of 15 000 kits are created in one day by BKFA life-member Judi Hutchinson and the Zonta Brisbane Breakfast Club.
2017 – BKFA Staff members travel to Uganda, meeting with 10 Field Partners and visiting 17 different communities.
2018 – The BKFA team visit India, connecting with Field Partners, schools, communities and vocational training centres to explore future partnership and program opportunities in support of young girls and women.
2019 – BKFA celebrates the distribution of 2 million birthing kits in partnership with over 100,000 Australian volunteers.