Today was our last working day in Zambia. First bad news of the day: we had no hot water in our shower; good news though was that we had plenty of cold water! More good news – there was a brand new toaster at breakfast 🙂
Emmie arrived promptly at 8:30 and after our last morning group picture we were off to Beit Cure Hospital for our final working day!
Today, I helped students get started in Hearing Aids, Jenn stayed in Audiology. I watched the ENT nurses for a short time and then today was my day to wander around the stations. First I went to physiotherapy, but they did not have any patients, so I went to the children’s ward, and spent time with several kids (names omitted):
- A – a cheerful kid, not quite 2 years old with a great smile who has had surgery for club foot and was recovering
- N: a tiny little thing, though her chart said she was 2, a double amputee at the thighs, because she was born without the lower leg bones (tibias). I hope and pray that she gets her prosthetic legs and makes good progress
- K: another delightful and cheerful 2 year old with a large bandage covering his head – post surgery for a “pre-auricular sinus” which is a malformation at birth and which had been severely infected also. He was eating his morning porridge, but yesterday afternoon I had seen him playing in the ward with a ball
- D: a 17 year old Grade 9 student who was enjoying working on a puzzle brought to him by one of our students
- B: a 6 year old who was coloring with Jill and is also post-surgery for a problem with his right knee
All these children and their families in the large ward together, with people walking in and out including visitors such as ourselves and yet they are so patient, understanding, willing to talk despite their troubles. We take so much for granted in our comfortable lives and good medical care available to us in the US, while these precious children often travel long distances causing much hardship to their families to get to this hospital for their surgical procedures….
From the ward I went to the kitchen. The kitchen staff including Elijah, Kelvin and Mbita were all extremely friendly and welcoming. A few students joined me in a bit and we did various tasks including cleaning the sinks…
drying dishes and silverware, stirring the large vat of nshima,
clearing out their stock room and learning things such as how to scoop out the nshima into the football shape (sadly I did not get the hang of doing this well), and the typical way to eat nshima by hand.
Through all this we also chatted with the staff and learned about their families. It was a wonderful experience.
At Beit Cure the food in this kitchen is prepared for all patients and staff, and everyone eats the same food, from the upper administrators to the patients in the wards. We served everyone food at the kitchen window and finally ate our lunch.
At lunch I was fortunate to meet Beit Cure’s neurosurgeon Dr. Kachinga Sichizya, one of only 2 neurosurgeons in Zambia, and one of the few Zambian physicians in the country. It was an honor to meet him and have a chance to chat for a few minutes.
The other excitement around lunchtime was that I finally saw Chisomo – it was like meeting a long lost friend because after she hosted us during our trip to Zambia last summer, we have been e-mailing, but over the past two weeks, she had been out of town. It was great to see her and hear about what she is up to these days!
After lunch, we had a final wrap-up meeting with the Audiology and ENT staff including Alfred, Charity, Evelyn, and Patson, and also Lars, our friend who introduced us to the hospital on our very first day here last week. Alfred shared some information about the challenges faced by children with hearing loss in Zambia, and possible steps to improve audiology services in the nation. Final thoughts in terms of what we can do after we return to the US included being good ambassadors for Zambia, or even Africa in general by raising awareness and trying to erase the stereotypical images of Africa seen in western countries; and doing whatever we can to increase knowledge and innovation rather than just offering financial assistance…
After a short break back at the lodge, it was time for our farewell dinner at the Plates Restaurant and Wine Bar ( http://plateszambia.com ). This was a really nice restaurant and we took this opportunity to sincerely thank all of our community partners in Zambia including those who did not attend. The past two weeks have been a fantastic experience for all of us. We have all learned so much and words cannot express my feelings or describe how thankful I am to all of you. We thank all of you from the bottom of our hearts – you are a truly remarkable and inspiring group of people and we hope to continue and sustain this program and return to your wonderful country Zambia…
- Alfred Mwamba, Dr. Uta Froeschl, Charity, Evelyn, Patson, Chisomo and Lars from Beit Cure Hospital
- The staff and students at Munali High School
- Dr. Kankasa, Alice and Pezo from the Pediatric Center of Excellence
- Dr. Matafwali and the Special Education Student Association officers, especially Changwe Chibuye
- Beth Bailey and Eric and Holly Nelson from Special Hope Network
- Pastor John and the teachers and students at the deaf Bible Baptist Church
- Mr. Katongo, the head teacher and staff and students at Kizito School
- Sr. Marjorie and the staff and students at Cheshire Homes
- Emmie Mwanje our constant companion these past two weeks who drove us wherever we wanted to go
- Maggy Younger from cmc global who made all our travel arrangements for the trip
- The faculty, staff and students of the SLHS department at Purdue University, including our Head Keith Kluender and Dean Chris Ladisch and Dr. Cai
- And finally last, but certainly not the least the 12 students who participated in this inaugural program
This program could not have happened with out all of your valuable contributions.