This is a long one, so take a deep breath and read on!
Today was the biggest running group thus far and so Jenn was excited! There were 7 students who ran, including two brand new members – Jill and Erikka! The group went at 6am and the main doors of the guesthouse were closed. Fearless leader and running coach Jenn managed to open all four bolts and lead the team out for their morning run! 🙂
Today we went to another school for the Deaf to test children. We met Alfred at Beit Cure Hospital and Jenn and I had our first moment where we didn’t “fill in” for each other as we have done so far! We had both forgotten to take the adapters we needed to use our audiometers! Fortunately, we were able to turn around and go back to the lodge, pick up the adapters and get to the school by 9am – whew! In fact the Beit Cure ENT truck with Evelyn the ENT nurse and Patson the audiology technician was also just pulling in as we did! Alfred said he had a cough and was not coming to the school.
This school was very different from the Munali High School we went to last week. This was called the Deaf Bible Baptist Centre and was for children from 5 – over 20years.
It was in what appeared to be a much poorer neighborhood than Munali – we passed a market where we saw lumber and other building materials being sold.
Pastor John the director was not there today, although I was able to chat with him on the phone. The teachers at the school helped clear a small classroom for us to set up. We set up three audiometers and while 6 students tested hearing in the room the other 6 rotated outside and in the ENT truck looking in ears and keeping the kids organized. Once again, our group showed great teamwork. We tested 63 children and 9 staff members.
In the middle of testing, we had an electrical “problem” – suddenly we heard a little pop and Emily said she saw a fire! We had blown a fuse in the room and there was smoke from the outlet and a burning smell! Once again – the students showed their flexibility – the other stations continued and the station that had been disrupted quickly put away our audiometer and took out the battery powered one from Beit Cure and started using it, so the testing continued! The electrical work in that classroom was clearly not in good shape: there were wires just being held together in several places with no outlets.
We also found out that the school normally provides a mid-day meal to the kids since they are primarily from very poor families. However, today they had no food (we don’t really know the reason) and the children were going home for the afternoon. Unfortunately, the teacher was unable to explain where they got their funding from, except to say that Pastor John took care of things. She did mention that sometimes he sacrificed things so the kids could have food.
After we were finished with the testing, we had to wait for our bus, so we again had a great time interacting with the children in the small school grounds. They were eager and friendly, and loved posing for photos with us. One child was cleaning a big vat (probably the nshima vat).
One particularly poignant story: one of the school’s teachers was using spoken language. When we tested him, he had no hearing at all. He told us he lost his hearing in Grade 4 after he got very sick with malaria and took medicines to help him get better, and that within a week after the illness he had lost his hearing. In the US such a person would be an excellent candidate for a cochlear implant (CI), but for him, how would that ever be possible? CIs are not possible in Zambia. To go to another country and get one would require huge funds, and then if he returned to Zambia there would be no one to help maintain the CI. And – he realizes that because he said that needed to come to America. It was heart rending to talk to him and not be able to do anything to help.
A funny story from today: one of the adults we tested was John, and somehow we assumed it was Pastor John. So there I was in the room thanking him for having us. I even told one of the teachers that we were testing Pastor John and she gave me a puzzled look, because he was not at school today! The student started testing him…..and then I saw Jenn at the window wanting to talk to me. Turns out it was not Pastor John at all but a schoolteacher called John! Jenn and I had a good laugh over this incident later at night!
Emmie arrived and we said goodbye to the kids and since we had finished surprisingly early, we ate lunch on the bus and went to the Lusaka National Museum. It was a small museum and clearly not very well funded as most displays were not labeled and many were not well maintained. But it was very interesting. Emmie came with us into the museum – downstairs were sculptures and paintings. Upstairs, they had a history of Zambia, a section on witchcraft, some very nice recreations of Zambian village life, and also some kids’ art on the walls – some from children at Cheshire Homes – a facility we will be at on Wednesday!
Emmie wandered with us and did a great job explaining the village setting to us. I found out his daughters are Maureen (she likes to paint), Faith and Dorothy. Emmie is so soft spoken and wonderful and can turn that big bus anywhere – he drives it like it is a little car!
We came back to the lodge early after the museum – I think by 3pm – our earliest finish since we have been here. Everyone relaxed a bit and then Anyea gave her second yoga lesson which a small group enjoyed! Anyea was a great instructor – very serene and soft spoken, and I was able to follow along a little bit at least!
Tonight we were having dinner at the Guest House – in fact last night they had said they would provide us with the dinner, so we were excited. Dinner was at 6pm and we all promptly showed up and sat at our tables – there was some food laid out, but we waited patiently for a staff member to appear – they were still preparing two more dishes. It was a very nice dinner including some nshima, rice and noodles, cabbage, potatoes, beans and peppers, and also some chicken and sausage.
After dinner we had our de-briefing session and I think the discussion was great! Here are the thoughts the students discussed today:
- They enjoyed having a shorter work day
- They understand better what it means to condition a deaf child to respond to sounds, knowing that they may never have heard a sound before
- They realize how it is hard to test when a child gives false positive responses (raise hand when there is no sound)
- They also realized how visual the deaf kids are and how they picked up on visual cues a lot (shoulder and eye movements while presenting sounds for example)
- They asked about whether it is typical to have two testers for each child with one person “coaching” the child; and discussed the pros and cons of being in front of the child while testing
- We discussed how an adult teacher also gave false positive responses – and that it is normal
- They discussed the story of the teacher who lost his hearing in Grade 4 after malaria and I learned that there were two other deaf teachers also who were is somewhat similar situations
- They felt inspired to learn some basic ASL because they had a hard time communicating without knowing any signs
- However, they felt that even knowing some signs it was much harder at this school
- They discussed why this was so (compared to Munali High School). The kids at Munali had much clearer signs with better grammar, vocabulary etc. We discussed that there may be many factors for this including:
- Munali kids were older
- The school environment at Munali was better; this school was in a poorer area and less well funded than Munali
- Today’s kids could also not read English as well compared to the Munali kids
- Munali had a large number of kids in their residential program. Here the head teacher told us the kids do come from as far as Livingstone, but of course there is no residential option and she said kids live with the teachers
- They were surprised that many kids did not know how old they were (we had kids who looked like they were 6 saying they were 12 for example)
- Again they compared this to the PCOE where we went last week where the parents told their kids’ ages in real specifics as 4 years 2 months for example
- This could be because they were kids at risk for HIV who were being followed closely by the center possibly from birth
- They discussed the lack of organization at this school – at least two of the teachers who assisted us were brand new to the school and that may have led to some of the disorganization (for example not knowing some of the kids names, or how many kids were in the school)
- They shared that the people were surprised that people in the US also have similar problems as they do – i.e. that there are deaf people in the US, people do have ear infections and eardrum perforations in the US etc.
- They commented on the lack of structure for the kids and their observation of the kids fighting with each other a lot – in fact one little boy punched a girl in the face, and yet the girl just went off and washed up her bleeding face and was back playing in a little while
- Is this due to a cultural difference?
- Or is it due to frustration from an inability to communicate effectively?
- They commented on how great it was to have Emmie at the museum because he explained the village scenes to them
- They also commented on the lack of labeling of the displays at the museum
- They commented on a display of passengers in a bus to explain the HIV/AIDS situation: some people on the bus were red (HIV positive) and others were not (HIV negative). Because one of 4 people is HIV positive, the people on the bus were in a way linked to each other because of HIV
- More generally it was noted that people don’t slouch but stand straight (especially the women carrying things on their heads)
- And finally, as Lars said to us at our orientation on our very first day – expect to get marriage proposals as that is a way for a young Zambian man to get a better life, we found out that one of the students had indeed received a proposal when we were out to dinner one day last week!
Tomorrow we go to another school, but this time a regular school, not one just for deaf children.