Over the time the makerspace has been open we’ve endeavored to vary the projects in type and difficulty, but we’ve also deliberately tried to make sure the projects serve a wide variety of populations. I think doing this helps the students better understand the reach their service can have, even when the service itself is relatively simple. That was the case with our October project, which was making baby hats and receiving blankets that were then combined with other items to make birthing kits.
A quick Google of birthing kits will bring up many organizations across the world who put these together for women in developing nations in an attempt to ensure the most sanitary home birth possible. The list of items that go in a kit are pretty standard across the organizations: a piece of plastic sheeting to protect mom and baby from the ground or dirty floor, a length of string for the umbilical cord, soap, latex gloves, maxi pads…the hat and blanket add a personal dimension to the bags that appealed to many students, a gift from them directly to an unknown new life.
One of the organizations that distributes these kits is Konbit Sante. This organization works in Haiti, and I was really struck by part of their mission statement: “we believe that it is imperative to bear witness to, and advocate on behalf of, persons who suffer the indignity of misery.” A contributor to misery in the organization’s mind is a lack of access to even basic healthcare, so that is their focus and birthing kits are an important part of the services they provide. According to their website, they give out hundreds of kits per month. After some emailing back and forth with Richard, he said it was fine if the students made the hats and blankets rather than them being store-bought and we got started.
A generous parent provided the funds for the other items that were needed in the bags and a former student took care of the many Ziploc bags we needed for packing. Students delighted in how cute the little hats were when they completed them and cooed over the different patterns I had found for the flannel blankets. Students packed the kits themselves, cutting the plastic sheeting and string to the proper lengths so as to hopefully see the full extent of the difference in this birthing experience vs. one they might know of from a friend or family member. Students also made the bags all the materials went in, which was another opportunity to practice some careful sewing and other skills. In all, 17 kits were put together by 13 students. We again drew new students to the space who have since come back to be with us again for the month of November.