The death rate for infants is high in Nairobi, where 55 out of 1,000 infants dies. For premature babies, the risk of death is even higher. Alice Sibour, part doctor and part traditional healer, decided to take matters into her own hands to save the premature infants she sees. Using things she already had around the clinic, Sibour fashioned a homemade incubator to keep premature and tiny infants warm after birth.
For the parents that Sibour sees, her makeshift incubator has been a blessing. Families that live in the slum areas where Sibour works rarely have enough money to pay for health care. They cannot afford to travel to get more advanced medical care if a baby comes early, so they have to rely on Sibour to do her best.
“They depend on us,” says Sibour. “Sometimes some of them have no money at all, but they know that if they come to us, we’ll assist them.”
The incubator is nothing more than a pillow with hot water bottles underneath. The baby is laid on the pillow, then covered with blankets. Mosquito netting is also used to protect the baby. Sibour uses the water bottles to create warmth for the babies, being careful not to use hot water that could burn a baby.
“I got this idea when I visited a friend of mine who had something similar and I decided to make one, but for protecting premature babies,” she says.
“I just figured that a premature baby mostly needs warmth. I have helped very many children who are now big children.”
Sibour works tirelessly to help local families bring new children into the world. Working in the slums can be dangerous, she faces the risk of being attacked and murdered by thugs that roam the area. Despite the danger, Sibour is happy to be able to help. – Summer, staff writer
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