Our last clinic day today and we left at 8:00am from Zebra Guest House.
We picked up Gemma, the audiologist from the UK and Olipa the audio tech student who were coming with us and off we went on our bus to Kasupe. Past the largest garbage heap in Lusaka…..
and then onto a red dirt road that led us to the Mthunzi Centre, tucked away in the brush.
At the Centre, the Project Manager Mr. Malama took a few minutes to tell us about the Centre. It is funded primarily by an Italian non-profit called Amani. There are about 40 boys at the Centre who live there and go to the local primary school. There are also 14 boys who have been sent to boarding school to complete high school. There were a couple of boys who have finished 12th grade and are looking forward to attending college. The Centre also helps another 40 girls and 15 boys who live in the community with their educational needs. Once again (same as last year), I could feel the pride Mr. Malama exuded about his children just like a proud father. He had all of the children in the room introduce themselves.
Then we split into two groups: Olipa, I and 5 students went to the local Tubalange Primary School along with Mr. Raphael Bwembya (in charge of child care programs at Mthunzi) as we were expected to screen about 200 first grade students. Gemma, Christi and 4 students stayed at Mthunzi to screen the 60 children there.
At the school we arrived and met the Head Teacher Mr. Gideon Lungu who welcomed us. BUT – he told us that there had been a miscommunication and that not all the first graders were there today as they had gone to another location for some other event. We then discovered that the room they wanted us to use for the screening (and were busy cleaning out for us) had no electricity. So while Raphael and others searched for a solution for electricity, we started having the children who were there line up by grade level. The Purdue student team worked really well together as they started getting student names and filling out forms. Then while 4 students started looking in ears outside 2 others started testing in a room using the battery-operated screener that we had. In this way we finished screening about 25 children at which time a room with electricity was found.
The students outside did a great job setting up the two audiometers as soon as a room with electricity was found, getting them plugged in, checking to make sure they were working and then starting to test children in there.
At this time I continued adding children to our list: 4th and 5th graders who were there. Noise is of course a problem at hearing screenings and we had to shush the children and try to keep them away from the doors of the screening rooms. Many thanks to three older students in the school (Priscilla, Charity and I forget the third and most helpful girl who were 7th and 8th graders who spoke English) who helped us figure out students names and keep them quiet!
We screened a total of 87 children and referred 9 of them to Beit Cure Hospital to have their ears and/or hearing checked. We have been so pleased to find that most of the facilities do actually follow-up with the recommendations quite promptly and hope the same happens with these children!
Meanwhile at the Mthunzi Center……from Christi:
It took us awhile to figure out a good flow for the screenings! We decided to set up two stations- one for otoscopy and one for the pure tone screenings. We set up two audiometers in one room, and had chairs outside to do otoscopy. We quickly realized this would not work as the children were excited and things got quite loud (which made it difficult to complete the hearing screenings!). So we moved the otoscopy station to another large room farther away and this helped. We thought we were ready to start, but then there was loud music playing somewhere nearby, so we had to find someone to help us figure out where it was coming from and ask them to turn off the music until we were done. The children and staff at the Centre are full of laughter, joy, and playfulness- so it was difficult to ask them to be quiet when they were so happy!
Finally we got into a nice groove with Danielle and Lauren completing ostoscopy (with Gemma’s help), and Katie and Kate completing the pure tone screenings.
I helped keep the environment as quiet as possible, talked to children and staff after their screening if they had questions, and kept the paperwork organized. We screened a total of 68 children and adults. 15 of the children needed a referral to Beit Cure for follow-up. One of the social workers at the Centre was always close by to check in on things and she asked for a list of the names who needed the follow-up, as she will arrange a day with Beit Cure so that they will all go together as a group. I have no doubt that these children will get the care needed, and it was such a great thing to see how the organizations work so well together to make sure the children’s needs are being met.
In total we screened 155 people today and it was a very successful morning where our team showed great flexibility and adaptability to the challenges and worked together as a team to get the job done!
Mr. Malama had promised us an entertainment program back at the Centre so we went back there from the school. Some of the kids from the center performed some traditional African dance for us and it was great to watch! The team of dancers from Mthunzi has been invited to and performed at various locations in the country as well as in Italy and Scotland!! They are a very talented group!
Another special treat was that we got to meet Mr. Malama’s family – they live right by the Centre. Last year at our farewell dinner he had showed us photos of his two beautiful children and today we got to meet Ndeke and Kadati and his wife.
All in all, it was a great day of screenings and so inspirational to see such meaningful work being done at the Centre by Mr. Malama and his team. We could not have asked for a better way to end our last working day in Zambia!
We finally piled into the bus for the ride back to the guesthouse where we rested for a short time before getting ready to go to our farewell dinner with all our amazing community partners! More on that in another post!