In October 2022 I went on my first humanitarian trip to Zambia. In the whole country of Zambia there is only one audiologist and 5 Ear, Nose and Throat physicians!
First Clinic Day
We arrived at our first clinic day and this is what we saw. People walked and rode their bikes to come see us. One elderly man told me he rode his bike for an hour. It was so humbling to see what people have to go through to receive what we think of as basic health care.
We set up our workstations. This is where people checked in, waited and if needed had their ears cleaned and/or ear molds made.
I spent this clinic day testing people. We identified many people that needed help and were able to provide hearing aids to them. Thankfully we also had a nurse with us this day, allowing us to easily and quickly connect people with medical treatment.
Second Clinic Day
This day I was able to meet three children that were identified and treated by Hearing the Call at a previous trip. Fellow audiologist, Chandace Jeep from Colorado, made them special fancy ear molds in the color of their choice.
We have many challanges when working in these remote locations. The key is to stay calm and make the best of what you have.
In this picture you can see some of the challenges we face. I was testing a woman who was holding a fussy baby, with a motorcycle behind me, lengthy extension cord for the one power outlet, spilled gas and oil on the floor, using a file cabinet as a table and a broken chair for me to sit on. This is definately different from our daily offices.
We were able to fit this woman with a hearing aid!
Later in the day we were able to go visit Village of Hope. This is where these children live and go to school. This is an amazing organization. I could write pages and pages about the amazing work they do and how they help change the lives of children of Zambia. Please visit their webpage and check them out: https://www.akclivillageofhope.com/thevillage
Third Clinic Day
Our third and final clinic day was nothing short of amazing.
I was asked to look in the ears of a 22 year old man. Both of his ears had infection and puss. He had been living with ear infections for so long that his ear drums were gone. He was having tremendous difficulty getting medical care and had these infections for about a year. We were able to connect him with medical services and will be following up with him on our next visit in May 2023.
Today I also met Sylus. He is a 7 year old boy who’s father told us that he has never seemed to hear, he does not speak and communicates through gestures. Another audiologist tried to test him but Sylus was shy and the tall, male, white American man intimidated him. We gave Sylus a break and another female audiologist (Chandace Jeep) and I teamed up to help this sweet boy. We spoke with his father who revealed that Sylus had never met a white person. While we got some more history from his father, I started to show Sylus some little toys and play with him. He started to warm up and interact with us. We set up a testing location in a separate room so there would be minimal people around and two of us worked with him and his father.
We were able to get hearing results, which revealed a profound hearing loss. Sylus was fit with hearing aids. Through generous sponsorship he is now able to travel each day to the Village of Hope school and attend with other hearing impaired children. I am so excited to see him in May 2023 and get an update on his progress. Dr. Jeep took impressions of his ears and has some special ear molds for him.
We finished our experience with a couple of retreat days to Victoria Falls. This was an amazing place to visit. The property is part of a natural preserve so there were giraffes, zebras, impala and monkeys that live free on the property.