Birthing Kits deliver care to PNG sisters

By Margaret Voigt

It is hard to imagine giving birth to a baby in any setting other than our sterile, and efficient hospitals with their well-equipped labour wards. This is certainly not the reality for most women in rural and remote regions of Papua New Guinea. It is far from their experience of childbirth. For most pregnant women […]

It is hard to imagine giving birth to a baby in any setting other than our sterile, and efficient hospitals with their well-equipped labour wards. This is certainly not the reality for most women in rural and remote regions of Papua New Guinea. It is far from their experience of childbirth. For most pregnant women in these places, the best they can hope for is to be near a sub-health centre where one of the village midwives or nurses from the Lutheran Health Services (LHS) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea (ELC-PNG) is stationed. For most women living in these distant areas, the experience of childbirth takes place in thatched houses, on dirt floors or at best in a setting with dirty walls and floors, and possibly on beds with wooden slats – certainly not on any sterile delivery table. It is into these situations that the birthing kits, lovingly prepared in homes and on clean kitchen tables and bench tops around Australia by Lutheran women, bring the gift of hope and life to newborn babies and their mothers.

The Lutheran Women of Australia (LWA) have always been very supportive of the women in Papua New Guinea (PNG) especially through the health program. During the many years I was in PNG as a nurse and nurse educator, there was always support from the women in Australia, and it still continues today with their great support of the birthing kit program.

The idea of the birthing kit program was first presented at the LWA convention in Sydney in 2003.
Village midwives had been given some training on PNG for several years but not given anything to help them when doing village deliveries. The midwives and teachers at the Lutheran School of Nursing where I was a teacher, saw the need to help the village midwives assist the women having babies in the village. Since then the women of Australia have been strong supporters of the program and many thousands of kits have been sent.

These kits are used to help give the women a clean and safe delivery, especially when the baby is born in the village with the help of a village midwife, or at a rural Aid Post or Health Centre. Women are encouraged to have their babies in hospitals but if they live in the mountains, out on islands or where roads are poor or non-existent, this is often not possible and so maternal and child mortality are quite high. The birthing kits are a small way the women of Australia can help the women of Papua New Guinea have a clean and safe delivery and show that they care for their sisters in a neighbouring country. A tract with some bible verses written in Pidgin English is added to each kit.

The kits are made by the Lutheran women’s fellowship groups in many parts of Australia, are sent to the church headquarters in Adelaide where they are packed in large cartons by Joan and Kevin Koster and later sent by the International Mission office in a container to Lae, PNG.  Some kits made in Queensland are sent in a rotary container from Brisbane to Madang.


If you would like to consider the opportunity to join God’s mission through the assembling and donation of Birthing Kits, you are invited to phone Nevin Nitschke on (08) 8267 7300 or email nevin.nitschke@lca.org.au. For more information, go to http://www.lcamission.org.au/join-gods-mission/birthing-kits/

Read more stories about our partner church in Papua New Guinea at http://www.lcamission.org.au/category/stories/international-partners/papua-new-guinea/

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About the Author : Erin Kerber


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