Couple go to Indian slum

MIDWIVES: Howard Hinson and Sonia Newnham from Bendigo Health.
MIDWIVES: Howard Hinson and Sonia Newnham from Bendigo Health.

A husband and wife who both work as midwives for Bendigo Health will travel to India in September to support people living in slum areas.

Howard Hinson and Sonia Newnham applied to donate their time and skills for a month at the Asha Foundation, a service that provides health care and education for India's poorest communities.

The money used to support their trip comes from the HealthBank Cricket Challenge held earlier this year and funded by Bendigo Bank and Bendigo Health.

Mr Hinson said the Asha Foundation was founded 25 years ago and has reached into 50 Indian slums and impacted the lives of 400,000 people.

He said he and his wife would be working with volunteers from across the world to help improve ante-natal care and educate people about hygiene. "If you continue to practice poor hygiene then you’re likely to have infection. If you don’t have a good diet then you aren't going to heal well or stay well."

He said he would educate health workers on what to watch out for in fevers and continual bleeding after birth and advise women to attend a hospital for birth rather than staying home.

You can watch as many documentaries as you can but I don’t think its going to ever prepare you.

Howard Hinson

He said their work would be about getting women and families healthy enough to consider life "beyond just surviving".

The couple's time working in the Torres Strait has given them some experience in being "able to make do with what things you have around you" but they have never been to India.

Mr Hinson said he and Mrs Newnham were as prepared as possible.

"You can watch as many documentaries as you can but I don’t think its going to ever prepare you."

"The things that are missing are the smells and the sludge under your feet, the things that cameras hide."

He said a big concern was staying healthy and getting used to crowds and lack of personal body space. "They say coming out of the Delhi airport, there are 10 people deep trying to help you and get your bag." 

Mr Hinson said he and Mrs Newnham were humbled to be chosen.

"We hope that we will be good ambassadors for Bendigo Bank and the hospital because it is such a worthy cause and we hope we can do it justice," he said.

They hope this year's trip will be the beginning of an annual program with the Asha Foundation. 

Mr Hinson said they were hoping to "blaze the way" for future Bendigo-based health professionals to come to donate time and skills to the needy in Delhi's slums. 


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