Sibanor Health Centre began in 1966, when three nurses from Germany arrived in The Gambia to share the Gospel with the people there. One of the three nurses, Maria Röbbelen, moved to Sibanor, the other two stayed at the coast in Fajara. She rented a small two room house in the compound of a local family. Before she had time to start language study, the people heard that she was a nurse and started arriving for help.
There was no clinic in the whole area, so Maria got busy treating sick people from morning to night. The other two nurses came three days a week to help her, but soon that was not possible anymore. So she trained a Gambian young woman, Lucinda, to help her and to stay with her.
Very soon it was clear that she needed a proper building and land to build it on. In December 1966 Maria got a 1.5 acre plot of land in Sibanor and a clinic was built. Here she lived with Lucinda in two rooms and the other rooms were used for treating the patients. She also had women come to deliver, and it is said that some were delivering their babies in her bed, if there was no other room!
Other houses were built when the team expanded as others joined. In 1970 the first doctor arrived. She started a two year nurse training to help the Gambian staff gain new skills needed for health care. A ward was built, in the beginning mainly as accommodation for patients who needed to stay overnight. Later this was developed into a proper ward with night staff and doctors’ rounds.