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Step by step

mother and child at health centre Ethiopia

10 August 2018

Ian says that, as the Fullife Foundation has grown and expanded its work, God has put people in the right spot at the right time.

Ian’s life is both hectic and rewarding. He believes that God has used his friends to support and expand the foundation’s efforts.

As stated, his fellow foundation director, Janelle, worships each week at Ian’s church, the Ringwood Corps of The Salvation Army.

Andy Philp, a fellow Ringwood Salvo attendee, connected Ian to World Vision’s mission, in January 2012. 

And Ian’s connection to International Needs Australia (INA)* came about through another friend and fellow worshipper at the Ringwood Salvos, Amanda Southwell, who Ian recalls ‘made a real Macedonian call: “Ian, we need your help.”’

By the end of this year, Fullife Foundation will have raised close to $160,000 for INA, constructed two health centres, and sponsored 45 kids in Shurmo, in southern Ethiopia.

In 2016, the Fullife Foundation funded the building of two maternal waiting/treatment rooms (with 10 beds per room), about 30 km apart from each other, in Samre, Ethiopia.

Samre is an isolated, rural region with dry, mountainous expanses. All up, it cost AUS$63,000, and was a joint project with World Vision.

These two facilities now service a population of over 60,000 people.

‘When we started in Samre, in 2013,’ Ian adds, solemnly, ‘only 5% of women received safe, monitored, “skilled delivery” assistance when they gave birth; hence the high death rate.’

When Ian was over there in 2014 he visited Samre, and saw the results firsthand: he confirms that the number of mothers coming into one of the health centres for an assisted birth went from 5% to 88% (from 2013 to 2017) – that is a remarkable stat.

Perhaps the most stark evidence of change is the fact that no women died in 2016 from birthing complications. In 2013, 32 mothers died needlessly.

‘We go where we can make the most impact to the health of women and kids,’ Ian says, quietly and intensely.

One of those places is the Afar region in northern Ethiopia, where Ian met up with 40-year veteran nurse, Australian Valerie Browning.

‘We work with Valerie, as does Birthing Kit Foundation,’ Ian says. ‘We’re doing a three-year project running a training program for maternal assistants, designed to reduce the unacceptably high maternal death rate in a nomadic population of two million. In the first year we raised $55,000 towards this, and we hope to support it over the remaining two years.’

For Westerners, birth is an exciting but comparatively safe adventure. We plot our birth plans and devise playlists, pack plentifully to see the mothers have all they need while they recover, and we organise future events for ‘afterwards’, with a great degree of confidence that there will be an ‘afterwards’.

In Ethiopia, the imminent arrival of a child is complicated by the scarcity of help and the outbreaks of cholera and e-coli.

‘Water quality is a critical issue,’ Ian explains, ‘and the open defecation and lack of sanitation is an issue. We do what we can, and we’ve now built latrines in schools in Samre.’

Ian describes one 2017 project as ‘a real act of God, where someone out of the blue, came donated $60,000 to fully fund the construction of an entire health centre.’ Read More


* International Needs Australia (INA) is billed as a ‘Christian organisation journeying to create a just world where girls and boys, men and women, are all treated equally with respect, dignity and opportunity to reach their full potential’, https://www.ina.org.au/