Tag Archives: midwifery

Betty Balon

“We want to save more lives!”

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.

Midwife and baby

Sending books and saving lives

Sierra Leone has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world. Healthcare practitioners like Dr Joan Shepherd and her team at the National School of Midwifery in Freetown are working hard to change that.

Here Dr Joan explains how books you help to send are educating midwives, saving mothers and giving new-borns a healthy start to life.

Dr Joan
Dr Joan uses books you help to send to teach midwives about safe labour practises

Our country has suffered many crises like the civil war, Ebola outbreak and a devastating mudslide. These events killed thousands – including many healthcare workers – and damaged the healthcare infrastructure.

Today, we have the highest maternal mortality rate in the world – 1,165 mothers die per 100,000 births. We are not proud of that statistic but we are working hard to change it.

Midwifery students
Having access to books enables student and professional midwives to stay up-to-date

Institutions like ours are training midwives who are saving pregnant women and caring for new mothers and newborn babies. Training midwives about safe labour will help reduce the maternal mortality rate. And midwives imparting knowledge to new mothers will help reduce the chances of their new babies becoming ill.

Our weapon is books. When a midwife uses books and puts the knowledge into practice, it’s life-saving.

If a midwife is in difficulties – let’s say they have a very difficult delivery – they consult the books.

When we are armed with knowledge, we are powerful. When dealing with childbirth, we don’t want women or babies to die. We need to have the knowledge and the skills to save lives.

Reading in the library
Books you help to send enable midwives and students prepare well for any challenges they may face

That’s why we were so excited when we received brand new medical books. Our midwives now have access to modern textbooks featuring new developments in treatments to help them prepare to face any challenges on the ward.

These books have strengthened our midwifery school and many more institutions like ours which have also received books from Book Aid International.

The end beneficiaries are the pregnant women, new mothers and newborns receiving safe care.

We are not there yet, in terms of reducing the maternal and infant mortality rates, but we are working on it – and we always need more books! Medical books are constantly being updated with the latest developments so they are always needed.

I’d like to say a big thank you to you and all those who support Book Aid International.

Your donations are invaluable – they impact positively on the lives of those who use the books and we promise that we will make good use of them.


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.