Call the midwife - Amy to Africa

Amy Houston with the contents of one of the postnatal care packs she plans to distribute in Tanzania when she volunteers as a student midwife there in January.

Amy Houston with the contents of one of the postnatal care packs she plans to distribute in Tanzania when she volunteers as a student midwife there in January.

Some people seem to be born to help those less fortunate and Amy Houston is one of them.

The Warrimoo resident will head to Tanzania in January to volunteer for a month at a hospital in the city of Arusha, which will include home visits to rural Tanzania.

The first year Bachelor of Midwifery student at the University of Technology Sydney will provide support to mothers throughout their pregnancy, birth and postnatal period.

Miss Houston will not arrive empty-handed. The 19-year-old has been preparing postnatal care packs which include reusable nappies, pads, baby clothes and baby wipes for the mothers upon discharge, as well as putting together medical supplies for the hospital such as gloves, sanitiser, and cord clamps, and hopes to source a couple of dopplers, used to hear a baby's heartbeat.

Each pack costs $30, and Miss Houston is seeking donations, with a $5000 target to distribute 100 packs, medical supplies and dopplers which cost at least $1000 each.

While she expects to find the experience confronting and eye-opening, she's hoping it will also be a period of growth.

"I'm expecting to come back a bit more rounded, and this will change the way I care," Miss Houston said.

She will stay with a host family and has saved the funds required for airfares and accommodation from her two jobs - one in retail and the other as a nanny.

A former Blue Mountains Grammar student, a school trip to Indonesia at age 16 solidified her desire to help others.

"We witnessed poverty but couldn't do much," Miss Houston explained.

"There was a two-year-old girl who had leukaemia and there was nothing we could do. We listened to her mother's story ... I've just always wanted to go in and do something."

And when she read Australian obstetrician and gynaecologist Catherine Hamlin's The Hospital by the River: A Story of Hope, about a hospital Dr Hamlin set up in Ethiopia to provide free obstetric fistula repair surgery to women suffering from childbirth injuries, she wanted to volunteer in Ethiopia.

Unfortunately she couldn't find any volunteer programs available so she opted for Tanzania instead with the organisation Projects Abroad.

It's not surprising Miss Houston was drawn to midwifery and helping others with her mum, Naomi, a nurse, and her dad, Hugh, a social worker. And year 10 work experience at John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle sealed it. She witnessed many births, and enjoyed being able to offer support before, during and after birth.

"I want to support women however they need it most - whether it's a care pack or holding their hand through labour," Miss Houston said.

To donate, visit the site: https://www.chuffed.org/project/amy-for-africa

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