Tuesday May 27: A Comedy of Errors

Today was certainly a comedy of errors and it all started late last night:

Error 1: After our nightly pow wow when I was back in my room packing equipment and supplies for today’s activities I opened the large package of specula I had brought to use with our otoscopes and discovered that they were the wrong kind! So we started the morning by telling students how they would not only have to look in kids’ ears today, but do so while holding the speculum at the end of the otoscope because they could not be locked on! Off to a great start in terms of adapting and being flexible!

Error 2: At breakfast, Christi came in in a panic – her laptop’s power button is stuck and she is unable to turn it on!!! And today is her training presentation to the staff at the Pediatric Center of Excellence (PCOE)! Fortunately this was easily solved as Rachel P. (and several others) have Dell laptops and Rachel brought hers right away for Christi to use (with the internet dongle for the video clips)

We set off for PCOE and were taken to the conference room where several people were already seated ready for the training. Sr. Ornella the pediatric neurologist who I met last year greeted me like old friends and introduced the PCOE staff who were in the room. And we started with our first activity of the program in Zambia.

No significant technical difficulties and the presentations went off very well! First the one on AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) and the student presentations were all good!! They were confident, poised and very well prepared!


And then we invited people to come up to make additional materials which the students did with them – for about 1 hour and the interactions they had helping the Zambian staff were great to see.


Next were the Stuttering presentations and the students did fine again! In fact they did better than they had in their practice presentations in the classroom back at Purdue!

A couple of group photos and then we were off for our first clinical activity to Special Hope Network (SHN), eating a quick lunch on the bus.


Reached the new SHN Resource Center and Beth Bailey and Eric Nelson were there to greet us.

Error 3: I had forgotten to bring along the signed consent forms that we were supposed to give them L. Fortunately Beth was very gracious and said we could give them to her on Thursday. Beth told us about the organization, we met all 3 Nelson kids: Sam, Maggie and Molly, and got a small tour of the facilities there. It was great to see them all again and also the familiar faces of the Zambian staff Milika, Goodson and Diana, who I have now met all three visits to Zambia!

From there we drove to the N’gombe compound to drop off Christi and her group of 6 students. New at N’Gombe: a compound wall and gate!!! Every year we see the improvements at these centers and it is SO IMPRESSIVE how they implement their ideas into actions!! AMAZING!

The rest of the students and I went on to the Garden compound where we set up in 2 rooms – Andrea leading one and me the other and screened 36 SHN kids and 71 total people including siblings and caregivers in one very busy afternoon!! AND using the incorrect otoscope specula!


I got to see Robert who we had screened last year and that was amazing too!! He smiled and spoke to me! Told me how he was and I took a picture with him!

Error 4: We ran out of specula because we were supposed to only screen 39 kids and we screened 71 instead!!! We had to start skipping otoscopy towards the end, first on the caregivers and then on the last few children too

Error 5: Christi called from her center – her screening machine was running out of charge and she had 10 more kids to screen! I told her to just keep going and we would come as soon as we could! So as soon as we finished we went to N’Gombe and they had 2 kids still waiting to be screened when their machine died L

SO – between the 2 sites we screened more than 100 kids today – a challenging work day but we all made it work!!!!!

From there we decided to go straight to Manda Hill Mall to dinner and for Christi and me to get some more AAC supplies and also to try and figure out the problem of using the internet dongle with my Mac at the MTN store.

Error 6: We realized just as we were going to the MTN store that Christi had left the dongle in the bus!!!! We called Pearson and he said he would come right over….. which was almost ½ hour later! So we finally got the dongle and went to the MTN store where we found out that we need an “extension hub” to make the dongle work with the Mac. And that it was available at a Game shop that closed in 6 minutes!!! We ran there and luckily we found one and bought it – FINALLY getting to our dinner by 7pm!!

Tonight was the first pow wow after a work day and the students were very thoughtful in the discussion:

Crammed into Christi's room for the pow-wow

Crammed into Christi’s room for the pow-wow

We started with a “YAY” for the students on their great presentations in the morning! Then they talked about SHN comparing it to their experiences so far in the US:

  • This was the first hands-on activity and “it touches your heart to see the children”
  • “It was different from anything I have ever done before; the crying kids were a contrast from the cooperative college age kids I have tested so far and it shocked me”
  • “A 14 year-old child with cerebral palsy was brought in carried by her mother. IN the US they would have a special chair”
  • “The children had more severe disabilities than what I have seen. Many were crying and it took a lot of extra effort to screen them”
  • However “the kids were also very well behaved and listened to their parents, unlike kids I’ve seen at Purdue who have been very fussy”
  • “The ages of the children were much more than I thought” – many kids were really small for their age
  • “I appreciated today as a whole, and am more confident after this afternoon”
  • “It was really humbling”

The final comedy of errors to top off the day was when preparing lunch for tomorrow, the plastic fork I was using with the peanut butter broke into two – it’s just been that kind of day!

Packing tomorrow's lunch!

Packing tomorrow’s lunch!


















1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. sibks
    May 29, 2014 @ 15:57:47

    You all seem very good at coping with the unexpected events coming your way! I love the photos and seeing all the students doing such great work even with the all the challenges you described. Thanks for sharing!


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