MIDWIFE'S MISSION: Bundy girl to volunteer in Haiti
HELPING people in developing countries has been a lifelong vision for Bundaberg's Kimberley Lear, and in June the nurse and midwife will finally fulfil her dreams.
After completing a highly recognised and world-renowned six-week intensive course on global health and tropical nursing in the UK, Miss Lear will travel to Haiti where she will volunteer her services for 10 weeks with organisation Olive Tree Project.
Miss Lear said she initially wanted to be a journalist so she could travel, photograph and write about global communities, but as a hands-on person, she knew health care is where she could make the biggest difference.
"My heart has always been for midwifery and women and children's health,” Ms Lear said.
"Many women [in developing countries] birth without a skilled attendant so they or their infants die unnecessarily as there is no one there with knowledge to help.
"I believe all people are equal and deserve to enjoy good health and wellbeing... thus I want to do what I can to help end suffering of preventable morbidity and mortality.”
In the small port town of Jacmel, Miss Lear will be assisting in providing pregnancy, birth and postnatal care to the local pregnant women and their infants.
Lack of access, poor road conditions, transport affordability, quality of care and sanitation are the biggest challenges faced by expectant mothers and Miss Lear believes access to good health care is a basic human right.
"A lack of education is huge contributor so if I can teach mothers how to care for their infants with safe feeding, looking for signs of their infant being unwell, et cetera, maybe I can help empower women in communities to protect their and their children's health,” she said.
"Pregnancy and birth is such a wonderful phenomenon that should be celebrated, not feared.
"I love to empower women to have a safe, positive birth experience and transition onto mother hood.
"It is a privilege to work with women and families and be a part of such a miraculous moment, seeing new life.”
The decision to volunteer in Haiti was made not only because it has the highest mortality rate in the western hemisphere, but also because one of Miss Lear's sponsor children of nine years lives there.
"I'm so excited to have the opportunity to meet her and her family,” she said.
"My heart is actually for our neighbours in Indonesia, South East Asia and Pacific Islands.
"They are so close to us yet have such poor conditions.
"Haiti came about as an open door as there are laws in Asia against expats practising medicine.”
Miss Lear is raising money to gift to the Olive Tree Project maternity centre to fund the training of Haitian midwives to sustainably care for their own community.
"I believe that together we can make a positive impact and improve the lives of women and their families in need,” she said.
"I am eager to work alongside the local staff at OTP and learn their culture while in turn sharing my education.
"I am going to learn so much more from locals as I travel to these countries.”
After Haiti, Miss Lear has plans of continuing her volunteer work in other areas.
"I'm in Indonesia at the moment, networking to volunteer here after Haiti, and I am also in contact with Destiny Rescue to possibly volunteer in Cambodia or Thailand,” Miss Lear said.
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