This morning we left Zebra Guest House to work with Beit Cure Hospital for the first time! After arriving to Beit Cure, we followed their ENT truck to the Mthunzi Center, an orphanage for young boys. Ranging from first grade all the way through high school, these boys are well taken care of, and provided an education. Some of the people there had actually completed their education and had either finished college, or were getting ready to go. The people were all very friendly and welcoming, and so thankful that we could come to provide hearing screening for the kids!
We had four audiometers set up, so we tested four children’s hearing at a time. They all were instructed to raise their hands after hearing a beeping sound, so when they entered the test room, very few extra instructions were needed.
We quickly finished screening the children at the orphanage, and then traveled a bit further down the road to the primary school that they all attend(ed). Here we screened all of the first graders, as they are at an age where catching any hearing impairments is very important. Some of us used the otoscopes to check the kids’ ears, and then if all looked good, they were sent over to a different room where we checked hearing. Some children were able to have earwax removed in the ENT truck.
While it was my turn to perform otoscopy, I had a chance to get to know Excildha, an employee of Beit Cure hospital. She has profound hearing loss in both ears, and uses Zambian sign language. I took 2 years of ASL at Purdue, and because Zambian and American Sign Language have many similarities, we were able to communicate and learn some of the differences between the languages. Excildha was very excited that there were other people interested in learning sign language. Even though we weren’t very proficient, she truly appreciated that we were trying!
After introducing myself, Excildha gave me a sign name. At Purdue, one of my ASL instructors told us that you are not supposed to make a sign name for yourself. You obtain a sign name by making friends in the deaf community, and they will give you one. I was so excited to have been given a sign name!
Back at Beit Cure Hospital, Mr. Mwamba gave us a tour of the grounds. The facility was beautiful, and seemed very well managed. Every single place that we visited, we were told “Welcome to Zambia”, “You are most welcome here”, “Thank you for coming”, or something to that effect. I am continually amazed by the gratitude and genuine welcoming hearts of the people here.
Today was a long day, and a great day. We helped over 80 children by checking their ears and their hearing. Everywhere we go, we are told how thankful they are to have us here, but we are thankful that they would have us! I love being part of a team that can meet a need of other people. I’m so glad to be learning and helping, and I am loving all of the adventures!