Birthing Kit Foundation Australia (BKFA) has a proud history of partnering with Australians to support improved maternal and newborn health in developing countries. In fact, over 100,000 Australians have volunteered with BKFA since 2006 and their contribution has helped us to create over 2 million clean birthing kits.
In light of this wonderful achievement, and in celebration of National Volunteer Week, we spoke to Judi Hutchison, a long-time volunteer and she shared with us her incredible experience and what motivates her to share her skills and her time with BKFA. Pictured above is Judi (left) next to her twin sister Helen (right) celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Zonta Birthing Kit Project, 2015.
VOLUNTEER PROFILE: JUDI HUTCHISON
- Tell us a bit about you…
I am a twin and the youngest of 4 children born in Perth, Western Australia. My first job after school was as a Physical Education teacher and then began studying Valuation. After 18 years in Sydney culminating in my role as Director of Asset Management, I relocated to Queensland where I took 12 months away from paid work to volunteer. During that time came my passion for helping others in the community through Youth on the Street, aged care support etc. I currently work in Retirement Living Development which I adore. I have been extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel to various countries including Antarctica, South America, Greenland, Rwanda, Europe and Scandinavia. My most special moment would have to be delivering birthing kits to regional villages in Papua New Guinea and meeting Catherine Hamlin in Ethiopia.
- When did you get involved with Birthing Kit Foundation Australia, and what attracted you to the cause?
I became involved in Birthing Kits project in 2006 when I was a member of Zonta Club of Brisbane Breakfast in the Service Committee, was handed a large file of birthing kit project information and volunteered to become involved and manage the project for the club. The project has provided me with such wonderful experiences and opportunities.
- What is the best part of hosting an Assembly Day event?
The best part of hosting an Assembly Day is the number of volunteers from all walks of life coming together to help women they do not know personally. It also provides an opportunity for people to volunteer when perhaps they have not considered this previously. It is also an education process in relation to the global need and the Birthing Kit Project in general. The simplicity of the kit assists in people connecting to the project.
- You have volunteered for BKFA for over 11 years, what achievement are you most proud of?
The day we completed 15,000 kits. I was overwhelmed with the capacity and dedication of all the wonderful volunteers who never once faulted in their enthusiasm. Another special and overwhelming moment was being granted Life Membership to the Birthing Kit Foundation Australia.
- What motivates you to volunteer your time?
What motivates me is my love of the project and seeing the women’s faces when I delivered the kits to women in the villages of PNG. Those special times have given me to tools to inform the many volunteers about the difference they all are making not only to the woman and baby, but to the family and the community.
- Tell us a bit about the people you have met while volunteering with BKFA
Oh goodness from the team of TIME medical students (Towards International Medical Equality) and midwives, to the many different school students to the amazing sponsors and staff who are invested in the developing countries. There are girls, boys, women and men of all ages interacting and working together for the same cause. We have so many regulars! One of my favourites is Ian, who was walking past an earlier assembly day with his two sons and they came in to volunteer. They have never missed a year since. Oh and of course did I mention Catherine Hamlin!!
- What would you say to someone who is considering supporting the Birthing Kit Foundation Australia?
Go for it!! Putting together any number of kits involves a great deal of organisation and coordination plus generosity of tangible and intangible items including enthusiasm. The emotion and satisfaction at the end of each assembly day experienced by everyone in the room is infectious. I will forever cherish this opportunity to make a difference to improve the health of women and babies in developing countries.