REUNION #2!!

This is a few days late because I have been so busy!!! But last Saturday September 6th we had the 2nd Reunion of the SLHS in Zambia teams! And what was most heartwarming was that SIX of the 12 students from last year’s program came! Including one surprise student (Jordan) who is now in North Carolina but happened to be in town! What an awesome surprise that was!

Here’s the 2014 team:

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And the six students from the 2013 team….

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And all together now :)

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And one final hurrah!!!

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Hope to have as much success  next year also…..

Here we go again!!!

The fearless leaders ready to go again! :)

The fearless leaders ready to go again! :)

Can’t believe it is time to start again – BUT it is!!! Christi and I have started student recruitment efforts in earnest already and there seems to be a LOT of interest this year already! So much to do, but it is great to have such a good partnership – AND we have our 2nd annual reunion this Saturday where a few of the 2013 alumni will be there along with all the 2014 students!!!

Surprise!

We met in class again this morning and wondered where the students were because we were there and nobody else which is unusual! (there’s usually always a couple of students who are early). Then – ALL 12 students walked in together with a surprise for us – flowers, thank you cards and GREAT gifts: a signed group photo and a lovely scrap book for each of us!Image

Words cannot express how much your thoughtful gesture means to us! THANK YOU for YOUR very important part in making the program so successful. We really appreciate how flexible and willing to go with the flow you all were – even when unexpected things happened. Way to go Team Zambia 2014!! Looking forward to our reunion on September 6th!!!!!! 

Wrap-up meeting

Today was the wrap-up class for Team SLHS in Zambia 2014. We started with the course evaluations, then watched the powerful TED Talk “The Danger of a Single Story” (http://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story). Then we started our discussion: our grand finale pow-wow. The students shared their thoughts including:

  • The program impacted them both professionally and personally
  • Made them realize how privileged they are
  • Several students said they learned so much more than they gave
  • Several also said that they want to go back and their families are surprised at that 
  • They noted the similarities they saw
  • Several also commented on how they had heard horror stories about safety but they had not experienced any such thing
  • They talked about the culture shock of coming back to the US
  • And about the difficulty of talking to others about the program and its impact because others just do not understand
  • Several said that although nervous at the start, they gained confidence in their clinical skills over the course of the program
  • And they appreciated how there was always someone available to help if needed
  • They commented on how they were looked upon as the “experts” and people asked them questions
  • And how AAC was so useful at several of the sites we visited
  • They appreciated the weekend break which allowed them to get back to work the 2nd week rested and ready to go
  • Finally we spoke about the only negative aspect of the program – the driver who was a “little too forward” 

As suggested by Julia and agreed upon, we then decided to go for our “Fountain Run” – a Purdue tradition, but one that I had never heard about despite having been here for 15 years!

The team BEFORE the run:

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Drinking from the lion’s mouth (another tradition apparently)…

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The fearless leader went first!!

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Followed by the rest of the team:

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Ready for Fountain #2:

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After the 2nd fountain:

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Happy it’s done?!

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Confused?

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The soaked program leaders!

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What a team building way to wrap up the program!! 

Travel and reflections….

Thanks to KLM for two more uneventful flights: from Lusaka to Amsterdam, a brief layover there and then on to O’Hare. The team after we retrieved our baggage: Happy to be back…….

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But sad to be departing the group: 10 of the 12 students were picked up by their families at O’Hare:

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The final four who came to West Lafayette on the shuttle bus:

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What an amazing two weeks we have had again! So many people were involved in the success of the program and in helping our team. In addition to everyone in Zambia, some specific people back home that we would like to thank include:

  • Professor Oliver Wendt at Purdue for providing the SPEAKAll app to be used by individuals in Zambia as an alternative mode of communication

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  • Julie Renshaw and Gordon Stowe Inc. for providing supplies such as immittance and OAE tips and otoscope specula and loaner equipment to use for our screenings
  • Phonak Inc. for providing hearing aid and batteries
  • Clinical Professor Jenn Simpson and the Purdue Audiology Clinic for providing equipment to take to Zambia
  • Purdue University (Dean Liping Cai, David Ayers and others) for providing the Study Abroad and International Learning (SAIL) grant that helped purchase supplies and subsidize student costs for the program

Thoughts of our time in Zambia will remain with us…..the warm and friendly smiles of every Zambian we met……

Isaih at the Mimosa Cafe:

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the inspirational work of the organizations we had the honor and privilege to work with……

the children: typical kids and kids with disabilities from whom we learned so much

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the fun times at Victoria Falls and on safari and at the elephant orphanage….

and all the fun and memorable incidents – some of which I captured on camera :)

The weighing of suitcases and transferring of items to make sure the weight was under 50 pounds!

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Julia and her “jump” photos :)

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The power outage the first night we were there at our welcome dinner!

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Nightly pow-wows and lunch packing in Christi’s room (#16)

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The breakfasts: watermelon, broken toaster one day after a power outage (which thankfully came back to life soon – since this was the NEW toaster purchased during our last trip to Zambia!)

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The mosquito nets :)

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Being little kids :)

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The “gangsta”!

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The team work!

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The “visitors book” – that was a brand new book seemingly started just for us?Image

These signs all around the UNZA campus

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Oliver and his bottle-opening technique!

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Huddling to stay warm on the cool morning we went on safari in Botswana

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The coolest sinks at the lodge in Botswana!

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The butterfly on the hand of a lady on the cruise boat…..

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And Breanne’s attempt to have it come sit on her! :)

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The lilac breasted roller – national bird of Botswana – unfortunately could not get a picture of it in flight when it is even more beautiful!

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Jumping at the banks of the Zambezi

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My first “selfie”!!!

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The fruit and nut lunch on the bus…

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The “disco” bathroom…

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The people crammed into the backs of trucks…

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Jessica being embarrassed :)

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The daily ritual of cutting watermelon at breakfast – this morning with a very small knife given by Damiano!

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The dirt roads and dust clouds!

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The caterpillars for lunch!

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The holding of the python – brave Rachael went first!

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Alexis….not so sure :)

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The funny signs at Kalimba Reptile Farms

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The “prank” on Alyssa – placing stickers on her…

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The making of a snail! New skill…

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The constant search for wifi….

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Meeting Emmie – our driver from last year!

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Our chitenges!

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The triumph of killing a spider!

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The weigh scale in pounds…with a conversion chart to kg above it! (They use kg in Zambia)

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The chicken espetada…

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The children….

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The dessert crepes…

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The winning of the game “2048″ at Lusaka airport while waiting to board!!

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And on that sweet and winning note…..we hope we have the opportunity to do this all over again!

Last day in Zambia….shopping for souvenirs

Today is our last day – how two weeks have flown by!

We had our final pow-wow in the morning and discussed yesterday’s last day at Beit Cure Hospital and the farewell dinner which was much appreciated by all the students. More on that later since I am writing this at the airport in Amsterdam.

After the pow-wow we went for our final lunch in Lusaka at the Mimosa Cafe – the same place where we started. Here with our driver Pearson..

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Then on to Kabwata Cultural village for our final dose of souvenir shopping….

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Successful bargaining for some pretty fun souvenirs :) Breanne and Andrea with baby mobiles….

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We got befriended by a group of children as we waited after our shopping….

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We had a final group dinner at everyone’s favorite restaurant: Mint Cafe and enjoyed dessert crepes: this one a Snickers crepe – yum!

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Back to the lodge and the students received their gifts of the Zambian paper bead necklaces!

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Then at 9pm we loaded the bus with our luggage and it was time to go to the airport. Here we are the airport – a bitter sweet moment as always to leave Zambia after a very short and busy two weeks, but glad to be going home to the families we miss…

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Our last work day!

Our last work day for the SLHS in Zambia 2014 team – we can’t believe it has gone by so quickly!

I started the day with a faux pas – we had decided to leave at 8:15 am this morning instead of 8:30. Well, I finished breakfast and completely forgot about that and was sitting journaling in my room thinking I had a few extra minutes! Until Christi came knocking at my door to ask if everything was OK….. I was so embarrassed at having made everyone wait for me!

We reached the hospital and everyone went to their rotations: Alyssa and Rachael with me in Audiology, Andrea and Kaitlyn in the other Audiology room with Alfred, Kelly and Alexis in Physiotherapy, Amanda and Katie in ENT, Jessica and Julia in the kitchen and Breanne and Rachel between the children’s ward and laundry.

We had a slightly less busy morning in Audiology today but still saw 10 patients with a variety of problems including several children

  • Several children and one teacher from the Breath of Heaven Children’s Village that we had screened on Monday were there! It was nice to see the prompt follow-up that they are receiving!
  • We also saw several young children ranging from 3 months to 3 years who have had fluid in their ears
  • A couple of school-age kids
  • And one older adult

Rachael and Alyssa were quick learners and once again I was impressed with their willingness to try anything including tympanograms and OAE testing even on the youngest children.

Towards the end of the morning we were delighted to hear that the 11-year old girl that we had identified at PCOE was at the Clinic with her mother!!! I had been so disappointed when she did not come yesterday and had texted Alice at PCOE to let her know that the child had not come – I was extra happy to see her! Andrea and Kaitlyn tested her and although her right ear had no usable hearing, she had some residual hearing in her left ear and was ready for a hearing aid fitting! Patson and Andrea made an instant ear mold for her, Andrea pre-programmed one of the hearing aids we had brought (THANKS TO PHONAK FOR THE DONATION!). Then with Patson’s help speaking in Nyanja we were able to fit her with a hearing aid for her left ear. Her reaction was small at first, but as Patson continued to talk to her and ask her questions, she warmed up and chatted a little more. Although we know that she needs time to adjust to her hearing aid and will need follow-up, we were happy to be able to help and hope that she continues to get followed up at Beit Cure and does well at school.

Jessica and Julia (with Kelvin) served lunch at the kitchen today and we had nshima with potatoes, cabbage and meat. We were all asked to sign the visitor’s book at the hospital.

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Then at 14 hours (as they say here for 2pm – I am finally starting to get used to that and we are ready to leave!) – the older lady from the N’Gombe compound who I had tested yesterday came for her hearing aid fitting! I was so happy that she returned! Patson had already made her mold yesterday. This time Andrea and Breanne worked together to get her hearing aid ready with Rachel and Julia observing. Despite coming from the compound, she spoke some English and I was able to chat with her. During our conversation I found out that she had walked all the way from the compound to the hospital – probably more than an hour – in order to save on the bus fare. We also found that she goes to the Roma Assumption Parish – the same church that we went to the first Sunday in Zambia – seems so long ago! And she has only 1 child while 6 others have died. We hear so many such stories, yet the people are happy with what they have and their strong faith allows them to be thankful for what they have rather than despairing for what they don’t have. The similarities to the people in India are remarkable, as I have seen the same attitudes among poor people in India. She was so thankful to us and said, “God Bless you for your help” and gave each of us including Patson a hug before she left. She put her hearing aid in the case and said she would wear it when she went to church. Again – we hope she continues to return to Beit Cure for follow-up.

So at about 3pm we gathered in the waiting room for a wrap-up meeting with the ENT/Audiology staff. Alfred does a great job talking with the team and he spoke about the progress they have made since our last visit:

  • They now have trained Precious to be an audio technician and she is able to do hearing tests and they have added Excildha to their staff. We have all been so impressed with her! She is deaf but uses both sign and spoken language (and speaks 5 languages!). She is so smart, graduated from Munali Secondary School last year (one of the schools we visited last year), and her written English would put others to shame it was so good! Having Excildha at the hospital has allowed them to add a sign component where she is able to teach parents basic sign language, since Deaf kids in Zambia do not have an option of cochlear implantation and are generally sent to schools for the Deaf and use sign language.
  • Alfred also spoke about teams like ours that come for short visits as “visiting parachutes” – we swoop in and leave quickly. The question then remains: are we making a meaningful contribution”. He said “YES”, because we now have young people who will become professionals in the field who are aware of the circumstances and needs in Zambia. Although I agree that in the long run, we hope that we do have more professionals who have a broader world view, our short-term impact on the people of Zambia with hearing and speech problems is just a drop, while the impact on our 12 students is far greater
  • He also spoke about the vision for Zambia: for Beit Cure to become the hub and a center of excellence and training in ENT/Audiology while trying to set up the 10 provincial hospitals with audio technicians who could do basic assessments and ear care

After the usual group photos we also briefly met with Melissa and Tim Ebbers (CEO of the hospital) and I could not leave without saying goodbye to my good friends in the kitchen – Elijah, Kelvin and Mbita. I was sorry I did not have a chance to hang out with them this year and ask about their families as they shared their stories with me last year and I would have loved to follow-up to get updates about their families…

ENT/Audiology team:

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We left for the lodge about 4pm, and tonight is our farewell dinner!

Team ready for the dinner:

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We arrived at Rhapsody’s early at about 5:45 and were seated at our table for 25! Christi and I waited at the entrance to make sure we welcome our guests. We were delighted to have Eric Nelson and Milika Phiri from Special Hope Network (Beth Bailey was ill and unable to come), Mr. and Mrs. Devine from Breath of Heaven Children’s Village, Alfred and Dr. Uta from Beit Cure – it was so nice of her to join us later for a glass of wine even though she had plans for the evening, Pezo Mumbi from PCOE (unfortunately Alice was ill and unable to come), and Mr. Malama from the Mthunzi Center. The only organization from which we had no representation was Cheshire Homes – and we missed them!

After everyone had ordered their food I took a few minutes to offer our sincere thanks to all our community partners. Theses words come from the bottom of my heart:

It really is amazing to be at a table with such a group of inspirational individuals from all these different facilities. It all started about three years ago and I can’t believe that this has been my third trip to Zambia! And the 2nd group of Purdue University students who have had the opportunity to participate.

First and foremost we have to thank Alfred Mwamba at Beit Cure Hospital. Without Alfred’s support none of this would have happened. Special thanks to Dr. Uta, Charity, Evelyn, Patson, Precious, Excildha and all the wonderful staff – everyone from the laundry, kitchen, physiotherapy and children’s ward who so kindly allowed our students to spend time with them and answer their questions.

Andrea, Breanne and Alfred:

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This year we had the opportunity to work at PCOE for 1 ½ days. Thanks so much to Alice, Pezo and Sr. Ornella for organizing our activities and to the pediatricians and other staff for allowing our students the opportunity to observe and ask questions.

Kelly and Pezo:

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Special Hope Network has a special place in my heart – this is my third year working with this organization and I continue to be amazed and inspired by the wirk you do. Eric, Holly and Beth, as well as all the Zambian staff – Milika, Goodson, Diana, Lois, Dennis, Doreen, Mary and others whose names I may have forgotten, but whose dedication to their work I will not forget.

Rachael, Eric Nelson and Rachel:

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Cheshire Homes – my third year working with them also. We learn so much from the wonderful children you work with – their resilience and independence that you instill in them despite their disabilities is inspiring. Thanks to Sr. Petronella, Sr. Cecilia, Ian and all the other staff there.

Thanks to Alfred, we also have two new community partners this year. Breath of Heaven Children’s Village where Mr. and Mrs. Devine opened not only their village but their home to us welcoming us for lunch – we thank you for the opportunity to work with the children at the village.

Mr. Devine from Breath of Heaven Children’s Village and Milika from Special Hope Network:

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And Mr. Malama at the Mthunzi Centre – your work to provide education to the children is so inspiring and we wish you many more successful stories with the children.

 

Mr. Malama

Mr. Malama

We have really enjoyed the warm and friendly smiles and welcome we have received from every Zambian we have met!

Finally, we would like to thank the people back home who have supported us: all the faculty and staff in our department at Purdue University and administrators who have supported the program.

And last, but not least – we thank the students – for your professionalism, your team work, your flexibility and your supportiveness of each other. This program could not be a success without all of your efforts!

Dinner was a huge success – the restaurant and food were great and I had the opportunity to speak individually with each of the community partners who attended. We reached the guest house at 10pm after a long and lovely evening and decided that we would have a pow-wow in the morning since it was so late.

I have to admit that I was very relieved last night and went to bed earlier than I have the past two weeks (11:45pm) – relieved to have coordinated what I think has been another successful SLHS in Zambia program the second time around!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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