The best layette yet

Kiwanians in New Caledonia create birth kits for expectant mothers.

By Lydia Johnson 

Members of the Tiare Paita Kiwanis Club of New Caledonia are giving newborn babies a warm Kiwanis welcome.

Since 2017, they have provided expectant and new mothers with blankets and clothing, thanks to the assistance of the “Knitting Grannies”— four knitters from a local retirement village. One of those knitters is a club member who proposed the initial project.

Many recipients are impoverished or lack family support.

“There is always a need in our community for (helping) babies,” says Julien Le Ray, the club’s immediate past president. “It is always good to offer presents to families who welcome a child, especially single mothers.” 

Last year, the knitters created 33 birth kits for the Layettes 2020 project, which included a handmade blanket and bag with the Kiwanis logo. Kits also included clothing, diapers, a pacifier and bib, washcloths and breast pads.

The Tiare Paita club spent 60,000 Pacific Franks (XPF) to purchase the birth kit supplies. 

Another XPF15,000 funded flower bouquets for the knitters as thanks for their talent, availability and kindness.

The club delivered kits to four sites serving expectant or new mothers: the City of Paita’s social assistance office; the Magnin Clinic in Nouville, a private clinic specializing in the care of premature babies; the maternity ward at the public Medipole Territorial Hospital Center; and Network House, a location serving women who travel from isolated rural or island areas to be near a hospital for assistance before and after childbirth.

The club made sure enough kits were available for current and future moms at each site.

The impact of the project is palpable, says Lani Fuller, the club’s director of the Young Children’s 2020 Commission. 

“These meetings allowed a unique and emotional exchange combining sympathy, kindness, laughter, sometimes helplessness but more often joy. And above all, an unspeakable gratitude to (share) the smiles of the mothers and to approach and hug the newborns of this world.”

 This story originally appeared in the June/July 2021 issue of Kiwanis magazine.

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