Birth of a volunteering ethos

 

The birth of a healthy baby in Sudan will soon be traced back to the efforts of 150 Sydney high school girls.

The Year 10 students from North Sydney Girls High School volunteered their time and money to prepare birthing kits for women in Sudan.

Pregnant Sudanese women often lack access to prenatal care and a safe environment to deliver their babies. The school worked with Zonta International's long-standing aid program to prepare the birthing kits.

Each girl donated $15 to cover the cost of the kits, which contained soap, thread, sterile gauze, rubber gloves and a sterile scalpel.

After hearing a presentation on the unmet needs of women in the developing world from Dr Susan Bliss, NSW Director of Global Education, the students spent a morning assembling 3000 kits. Global Education is initiated and funded by AusAID.

Student volunteer Rebecca Tay was shocked by how many Sudanese women suffered complications during birth which could lead to illness and even death of themselves or their babies.

 "Living in Australia, we don't realise how lucky we are to have hospital facilities where women are able to give birth safely," she said.

Active citizenship

The activity was organised by social science teacher Irene Summers to complement the Year 10 geography curriculum.

"This voluntary activity provided the girls with a personal connection to the issues of active citizenship, global inequality and gender disadvantage they had been studying in the classroom," she said.

The experience of helping less fortunate women not only educated the girls but also contributed to their personal and emotional growth.

Student Jananee Myooran said she was now interested in doing further aid work in the future.

"It's been eye-opening to see how different societies are and the issues they face ... more developed countries have a duty to help less developed countries, " she said.

North Sydney Girls High School has a strong volunteering ethos and this activity was part of the school's continued involvement in the NSW Premier's Student Volunteering Awards.

 "By participating in voluntary activities it shows teenagers that they can make a difference - in their community, in their nation and their world," regional student volunteering coordinator Celina Mina said.

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