31 May 2017
Wendy Downes, of the Zonta Club of the Whitsundays is our next BKFA Champion. We hear from Wendy about her involvement, what inspires her, and her most memorable moment from all the years she’s been supporting BKFA.
“Not long after I became a founding member of Zonta Club of the Whitsundays in 1999, the club was introduced to the Birthing Kit Program. We Whitsunday Zontians latched onto it straight away. I took over the leadership role from the beginning and we started with the (then) only high school which was in Proserpine. Working in the school assembly hall with a very large number of students and Zontians was quite a challenge as we were all learning. The assembly day became an annual project which I still head upto this day. I’ve attended every single Assembly Day to date! Along the way we increased the number of packs assembled from 200 to 1000, and have increased the number of Assembly Days to include 2 High Schools and a ladies club on Hamilton Island.
I have been involved for so many years that BKFA is now a big part of my life. I am always inspired by those who are keen to help to save lives of thousands of mothers and babies. The school students who show such interest in learning about this project for the first time are often keen to return. And, some of the students have progressed further to assist in developing countries. I believe that this is something they probably would not have explored had they not been given the opportunity.
The best thing about being involved is the enjoyment of working with so many likeminded people who are passionate about this cause. We all know that what we all do is important; helping to save lives and seeing that progress is being made.
There have been many memorable moments, but the one that stands out in 2015 is when one of our Zonta members requested an Assembly Day on Hamilton Island. Janet had been living on the island on and off for many years and belonged to the “Hamilton Island Whine Club” which was a social club which raised funds for special projects. Another of our members, Pam Harrison, also lived on the island for some time and was a founder and board member of AFADU (Aid for Africa Down Under). Janet wanted to be able to provide Birthing Kits to the area in Zimbabwe where Pam’s project is located. The Assembly Day was organised but sadly Janet passed away suddenly just before the selected day. Pam and I agreed with the Whine Club members that we should still carry out her wishes, the day was a huge success and kits were dispatched to Zimbabwe. Janet would have been very proud.
This year the second Assembly Day on the island took place with 200 kits assembled, funds being donated kindly from the women and girls present. One of the ladies showed the youtube clips on the website to her 2 young sons that evening and they both drained their money boxes to donate $28 to the cause. This day will now occur annually, and is in honour of Janet”
What’s more, in 2015, Wendy was awarded the OAM for “contribution to the community of the Whitsundays”. Congratulations Wendy and thank you for sharing your wonderful history and some of your memories with BKFA.