Submitted by Christine Kelly and Tobi Pulley
Baltimore Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated is celebrating the Centennial of its chartering. Chartered in 1922, the history of its chapter is sewn throughout the fabric of Baltimore and the State of Maryland. In planning programs and activities to acknowledge this milestone event, the chapter decided to demonstrate the Sorority’s tenet of service. Tapping into the vision of Delta’s Founders, a decision was made to align centennial activities with the programmatic thrusts. One program shared here is the Birthing Kits Initiative. After an assessment of need for International Awareness, it was discovered that due to the lack of simple birthing supplies mothers and babies lives are endangered.
The Centennial International Awareness and Involvement Committee (CIAI) under the leadership of Chair, Sarah Smalley and Lead, Tobi Pulley established an agreement with the international chapters for the distribution of birthing kits. The Southern Africa Alumnae and The West Africa Alumnae Chapters agreed to receive and distribute the birthing kits.
“Concern for maternal morbidity and mortality is a world-wide problem for women of color across the African diaspora. It is exacerbated in certain world regions. I was elated that the committee chose this project to address a need that is often overlooked,” said Baltimore Alumnae Chapter President Arlene A. Wongus.
It was important that the chapter highlighted the Programmatic Thrust of International Awareness and Involvement. For this initiative, Baltimore Alumnae established agreements with international partners recognized by Grand Chapter under PP&Ds International Awareness & Involvement with focus areas in Africa and Haiti. These international partners included: Adelaide Tambo School (South Africa); Delta House/Vashti Village (Eswatini); Muindi Mbingu Boys Secondary School (Kenya); Delta Sigma Theta School, Cynthia Butler McIntyre Campus (Haiti); Mary Help of the Sick Mission Hospital (Kenya); I Can Fly High International (Kenya); T.R.E.E – Training Resources for Early Education (South Africa).
During the months of January-May 2022, sorors and volunteers collected, assembled, and packed items for birthing kits at the Delta Community Center, Towson University and Coppin State University. On April 2, 2022, a ceremony was held at the Sankofa Children’s Museum for the release and shipping of the birthing kits.
“Soap, a razor, a cord, a blanket, and a large sheet of plastic. These were the materials we assembled…this small assortment of items will make the birthing experience for a mother in West Africa easier and safer,” said recently graduated member of Mu Psi Chapter Jayla Scott.
CIAI also enlisted the support of the Collegiate Connection Transition Committee (CCT) of BAC. This committee became a valuable partner in the Birthing Kits Initiative. CCT provided support, input, and solicited volunteers from local collegiate sorors.
Soror Tobi Pulley stated, “Making an impact internationally brings service to global communities. A little goes a long way. Through Baltimore Alumnae Chapter’s Centennial International Awareness & Involvement initiatives we hope to heighten interest and action towards the miracle of childbirth in a real and life changing way. The birthing kits program is the best demonstration of bringing Collegiate and Alumnae Sorors together with the local and international community to save babies and their mothers.”