Betty Balon

“We want to save more lives!”

3rd July 2019 | Blog

In Sierra Leone, access to safe healthcare is not easy. Much of the country’s healthcare infrastructure was destroyed during the civil war in 1991-2002 and 10% of healthcare workers died during the Ebola crisis of 2014-16. Services are stretched and practitioners often do not have the tools or information they need. The impact on children and mothers is particularly devastating. Ten women die giving birth every day.

Midwife Betty and her colleagues at Nixon Memorial Hospital are using books you help to send to care for expectant mothers, teach them how to look after their new-borns and save more mothers’ lives. Here Betty tells us more.


Betty uses donated books to develop her knowledge.

Healthcare for mothers is so difficult. Awareness [among mothers] is low. When they are doing a lot of breast feeding, they should eat a lot. But some mothers don’t even drink water, except when they have food to eat. Some come to the hospital with bleeding or obstructed labour.

So I come to the library to know more – to read about general nursing, paediatrics, expectant mothers. The books help us a lot.

Maternity ward
Donated books are giving Betty and her colleagues the information they need to handle any challenges they face on the ward.

Before [we got the books], it was so difficult. We didn’t have more books or money to purchase them. So there was no wide knowledge. Because if you are not reading, you have no knowledge.

But with the help of these books from Book Aid International, we have wider knowledge of how to take care of pregnant mothers and their children.

I come to the library twice a week. I read Foundations of Nursing – it covers everything.

On the ward
Betty saved the lives of three mothers after reading about a procedure to stop bleeding in mothers who have just given birth.

I read about what to do when a woman [who has just given birth] is bleeding. The books taught me about a procedure called balloon tamponade. I remember one morning I applied it to a woman and it stopped the bleeding immediately. I then applied it to three mothers – all of them survived and so did their babies.

[The books] help me, they help Nixon, they help the community at large.

Doing a ward round
Betty and her colleagues now want to expand their library so they can save more lives.

Now we have more awareness, we impart it into the communities. As we read here, we then go to them and explain everything and sensitise them that they should be coming to the hospital. This is the place of solving their problems.

Now we want to extend our library. We want to save more lives.

We would like to thank our partner Practical Tools Initiative who ensure the books you help to send reach the healthcare professionals, hospitals and medical training institutions that need them most.

Send books. Save lives.

Your gift can help send more life-saving books to healthcare practitioners across the world.


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