At Baby Hero, we have a lot of “shining” moments – the kind that humbles and inspires us in equal measure. It isn’t just about the direct impact the Neonatal Survival Kits make in the lives of expectant mothers and their babies; Your purchases also have a domino effect on the community health workers and data collectors who work closely with the families receiving these kits.
This story was sent in by Ali Matano, a 28-year old team leader in Mombassa, Kenya, responsible for managing the Neonatal Kit’s field activities in the Mohaka/Zigira catchment area.
I was born in a family that was not well off financially, and had lots of challenges. Despite all that, I had the privilege to go to primary school until I completed my Eight Grade. I scored good marks in my KCPE, but had to wait for one year before I enrolled for secondary school. My secondary education had put me closer to my childhood dream of becoming a police officer. However, after my secondary school, I tried several avenues but couldn’t further my education. I studied computers for a year but that did not help either. In the end, I had to take up casual labour to sustain my family.
I first heard about the Kit study through my friends Lucy and Felix who were staff members on this project. I joined to volunteer as a Community Health Worker, and 5 years later it turned into an opportunity to work as a Data Collector.
To be honest, when we were first trained on using the Neonatal Survival Kit, I didn’t take it very seriously. I worried about the possible resistance and suspicion the community would have to the unfamiliar and peculiar components of the kit.
Educating the mothers has meant a complete change in attitude and now they voluntarily come asking for the kit, and to be enrolled in the study.
"What amazes me was the fact that most of the newborns in the study started speaking very early and looked more vibrant and healthier than the rest in the community who hadn’t used the kit."
There have been many heartening moments, and the following are some of my personal favourites;
What amazes me was the fact that most of the newborns in the study started speaking very early and looked more vibrant and healthier than the rest in the community who hadn’t used the kit. These significant changes was pivotal in changing the perception amongst mothers who were initially skeptical of the study.
"The study has made me think differently about what I would be good at. I am now considering pursuing a career in politics."
The study has made me think differently about what I would be good at. I am now considering pursuing a career in politics. All the support and respect I gained from working on this project has made me popular in the community which includes nearly 18 villages.
My community is requesting the study continue and asking for more health related projects so local families will continue to benefit.
Financially, this project has provided my family with a stable income. I am very grateful to the study partner at Aga Khan University and the SickKids Toronto team for giving me the chance to work on this life-changing project.
- As shared by Ali Matano, Kenya.
Read more about the Neonatal Survival Kit your purchases help fund.