Today we visited Deaf Bible Baptist Church where we performed otoscopy and hearing tests on deaf children ranging from age 5 to 24. We had been informed originally that we would be testing around 300 kids at the school so we came prepared to spend a long and busy day at the school. When we arrived we were told that there was actually closer to about 100 students. I started out in the otoscopy station outside the Beit Cure Hospital ENT truck, which we would send the kids to if they needed cerumen (wax) removal or had any infection, fungus etc. Some of the little ones were a little nervous to have these strange people looking in their ears, but we did our best to be very friendly and reassure them. I really enjoyed having the wide range of ages today. It really added to the experience. The little ones were so cute. I didn’t come across anything too bizarre during otoscopy today (I found a cockroach last time) just a few with impacted cerumen, maybe a few with infection, and one perforation. We had to slow down at the otoscopy station because the line for the audiogram testing was getting quite long. We had three audiometers in one room constantly running tests, but as you can imagine it takes a bit longer to do. The children waited as patiently a possible in the line.
Similar to Munali High School that we previously visited, these children signed as well, which I thoroughly enjoyed because I got to put my American Sign Language knowledge to good use. I really enjoy cummunicating with the deaf children in Zambia. It really requires me to think on my feet trying to recall my limited vocab and use it to best communicate with them. Then there is the added challenge of Zambian signs being somewhat different from American signs. Communicating with the students today was slightly more difficult because they were younger, and their signing was more difficult to read because they are still learning it. It was interesting to chat with them. They asked me if I was deaf , what my name was, where I was from, and if I had any siblings.
I also took my turn inside doing audiogram testing. Once we finished testing the children we also tested the staff. Several of whom were deaf as well. It is very common for deaf people here to become teachers at deaf schools once they have finished their schooling. We had one minor event while testing. One of the power outlets must have short circuited or something, but next thing we know we hear a pop and then see a spark that flamed for a moment. We had a brief moment of panic, but everything turned out just fine. We just whipped out a battery opperated audiometer and kept on testing.
Overall we ended up testing the 63 students and 8 staff all before lunch. Quite a productive morning! As we were waiting for Emmie to come pick us up, several of us pulled out our cameras to take pictures. Oh my goodness, if only I would have known the effect that would have. Everyone wanted their picture taken and then wanted to see it after. We were swarmed. So i played photographer and even got to be in several pictures with the kids. When Emmie arrived they all wanted to give us hugs goodbye. They followed our bus to the gate signing “friends” and “we love you” and waving goodbye. It was the sweetest moment.