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  • Baby Box Kwale launches

At the end of 2019, our newest iteration of the Baby Box project kicked off in Kwale County, Kenya.

The project is designed to improve uptake and delivery of postnatal care in three clinics on the Kenyan Coast. We know from experience of working in maternal health that postnatal care rates are particularly low in Kenya. Whilst great strides have been made in antenatal care and delivery, postnatal care improvements have been much slower which has contributed to stagnant rates of neonatal mortality.

In Kwale we are using the Baby Boxes to incentivise women to attend postnatal sessions and to learn about potential danger signs in their newborn babies. We’re also using the project as an opportunity to learn about safe sleeping practices and to provide families with a safe place for babies to sleep during the day and possibly at night (if there is no alternative like a cot and where safe co-sleeping practices can’t be followed). This project has been a labour of love for our team and we’re grateful to so many of our supporters and partners for contributing to funding it and making it happen. One of those supporters, who connected with the project as he became a new father himself, is Sidharth Shah.

When I think of Sid, my first thought is ‘trouble’. In the best kind of way. Sid was one of the students in the most infamous of university medical students: The Swine Flu Group.
My first ever role within this organisation was as Student Programme Coordinator. I was responsible for medical student visits to Kisumu, Kenya, involving a practical learning experience; short term volunteer placements at projects supported by student fundraising. Nottingham University was my first large group and the whole group was trouble: Nottingham Medical students work hard and play hard. Three days in, one of the leaders reported that one of the group was unwell and had been in ‘close contact’ with someone who’d tested positive for swine flu back at home.
What ensued was quarantine, CDC visits, press conferences with the Minister for Public Health and Sanitation, being on the front pages of the national newspapers daily, then an eventful but ultimately safe return to the UK. It was wild and pre-covid, when leading epidemiologists were telling us that ‘a flu pandemic is coming’, there was a definite concern that this might be it.

Sid was a great character within that group! Being Kenyan, he knew more than me about Kisumu, he was better connected and he liked to have a good time. He was the only person in the group to test negative for swine flu but positive for a different kind of flu virus! He was the life and soul of the group and rather than get stressed about nearly being deported despite being due back in Mombasa with his family, he laughed and took it all on the chin. And he did make it home.
12 years later, Sid is back in the fold. We’ve kept in touch over the years but recently, with the start of our new Baby Box project at the coast, Sid has been a wealth of advice and support. Not only has Sid contributed to the project by providing multiple items to include in the boxes, but he’s saved the charity huge amounts of money by connecting us to suppliers and transport providers.

Sid and his wife have generously contributed maternity pads, mosquito nets for parents and flip flops for all the mothers on the project. With these savings we’re able to support more women and reduce the cost of the boxes.
Thank you Sid and Moksha and huge congratulations on becoming parents recently!

If you’re interested in hearing more about the launch of the project, look out for upcoming posts about our baseline survey and training. If you want to get in touch to help support our work, please email Lucy at lucyj@child.org.

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