Today, instead of posting my blog, here are reflections from three students on our team – they capture the essence of today’s activities, as well as what we learned on our first work day for the Zambia 2016 team! 🙂
The Cheshire homes was a life changing experience, not only do I feel a million times more confident with performing Otoscopy, OAE’s, pure tone tests, and even vision screening I also got a big glimpse into the African culture. So after a quick breakfast and of course a team picture we ventured our way the Cheshire homes where we would screen around 30 kids for hearing and vision. After our team split into groups and set up all the equipment our day began!
Our first kid came into the room, he was around age 2 and we could not get him to let us put anything in his ears, we tried and we tried but nothing was working.. Not even the bubbles! – Even though we were unable to complete the task this was a great experience, as a group I think we learned that not every kid is going to be able to be screened and not every kid is going to be as easy to screen as those that we have previously practiced screening back home.
Personally, I have never worked with children who had such profound physical disabilities but watching them was amazing. Not once did a child let their disability define them. Each child was thoughtful of one another and was helping their friends out at every chance they got. We had one boy who was very verbal and when we needed to know a child’s name or how old someone was he was the first one there to tell us the answer! Our team was very thankful for him! At one point we even saw one boy riding his wheelchair and pushing another wheelchair from behind down the ramp! – They went flying (we were all slightly freaking out) but helping each other is their way of life and they are very good at it if I do say so myself.
Another thing that I want to comment on is how well behaved the children were since they are not being watched at all times I was expecting chaos, but in reality I have never seen a more calm group of children. We walked into the classroom at the very beginning of our day during our tour and the kids were just patiently waiting on their teacher to get back from a meeting – not something we would typically see back home.
After our day of screening the kids we got to screen some of the adults – many of these adults had never had their hearing tested and they were around age 34. Its wild to think that we start testing at birth and we were testing these adults for the first time!!
After leaving the Cheshire homes we had a little bit of extra time on our hands and we got the opportunity to go to the Zambia museum. This was cool because it was not something that we were expecting to do. Our tour guide was awesome she walked us through the museum and described each area to us and I feel like we each were able to grasp so much more from hearing her talk about it then us just walking through and reading the signs and not knowing the background information. She talked to us about how Zambia has a very low murder rate and I found this to be interesting compared to back home where some of us get alerts from our town of fatal shootings that happen every evening. This was just one thing from the museum that eye opening. Later that evening we drove to the mall for dinner with a beautiful sunset and ate together as a team and Mikes Kitchen (not our best choice). Can’t wait to see what the rest of the week brings our team!!
Today we went to Cheshire Homes in Lusaka, where we screened about 30 kids.
Cheshire Homes cares for children who are physically and/or cognitively delayed, which made today a great eye opening experience. The kids and their caretakers were so resourceful, and the children who were more mobile were helping the kids who had more severe developmental disabilities. Lots of children needed to be in their wheel chairs to get to further away places, and we saw some kids who needed walking support use the wheel chair as their walker while they were pushing the other children. We saw walkers that were just wheels with a lawn chair sitting on top, and during “art time,” I saw a little girl who was coloring with her feet. It’s amazing the things they do with the limited resources they have.
The spirits of all the children also amazed me as they weren’t living an easy life, but you would never know it with the smiles on their face. After we screened the children, Sister Clara, the physiotherapist, and some of the housemothers brought us tea and fresh homemade muffins, and they were so open about how thankful they were for what we did. It was a great feeling to see how thankful the Cheshire workers were, and even the children were very excited to see we were there. Sister Clara kept saying how thankful she was and stated we did “the hard part.” Although it was very nice of her to be so thankful and kind, it was very important for her to know that we had simply just started the process, and there is still lots to do! They are going to try to get the children we referred a diagnostic appointment at the Beit Cure Hospital this Friday! We will be there Friday, and I am hoping we will get to see these children again!
We were done with the screenings early today so we decided to go to the Lusaka Museum, and we had the nicest tour guide! She walked us through the entire museum, which covered the history of Zambia and talked about the culture, beliefs, and traditions in Zambia – she even taught and played a traditional game with us. Overall, I feel I already feel I have learned so much and it was only our first day out. I am so looking forward to the rest of this trip!
Today was our first morning in Lusaka! We each woke up, some of us to the sounds of cats by our window, and prepared ourselves for our first day in clinic. After breakfast we were ready to go: name tags-check, water-check, audiometeres-check, bubbles-check! We packed up our gear and piled on the bus. Cheshire Homes here we come! Upon our arrival, we met the physiotherapist, Rajiv, who had been coordinating our visit with Dr. Krishnan and Ms. Masters as well as Sister Clara. Rajiv graciously gave us a tour so we could see the children’s rooms (boys in one and the girls in another), the gym, and where they ate.
After the tour, we were shown where we could set up our gear and we began. The OAE tips were dispersed, the tympanometer was plugged in and the vision board was taped to the wall. We paired off in groups and started bringing the children in.
While some of us were testing the children’s hearing, others were assessing their vision.
Most of the children were cooperative and let us touch their ears without a problem, but there were the occasional ones who were afraid we may hurt them. It took a little more convincing (stickers and bubbles) and we were able to test almost everyone. By the end of the day, we tested about 30 children and a couple staff members. Each child had their own unique story, and we, by no means, know them but I think we were able to see a glimpse of it through their soft eyes, beautiful smiles, and confident demeanor. These children had physical disabilities that visually look restricting, but you would never know it by how these children acted. The children who needed wheelchairs pulled themselves up into the seat, while the children who couldn’t walk without support hung on the back of the wheelchair to give them a push. Each child was a friend to the other, no matter what they could or couldn’t do. It was really humbling to see these children loving the other without any apprehension; something that I feel can be lost in the ‘mayhem’ of the US culture.
All in all, Cheshire and each child we met will be a great memory of our first day in Zambia. After Cheshire we were able to go to the Zambian museum to learn more about their history and even how to play a popular game among the children (which I cannot remember the name of…but I can teach you when I return).
Lastly, we all went to the mall, ate dinner and returned back to the Zebra guest house, which is where I am writing you from. We have presentations at UNZA tomorrow and are going to be able to meet our buddies who we have been emailing for several months. It is sure to be another great day!
One important moment of the day that I have to add:
Most exciting was when we peeked into the girls’ bathroom and saw pasted on the wall the bathroom sequence cards that we had made for them last year!! What a delight to know that the work we did with them last year on using AAC picture cards is continuing! Way to go Team Zambia 2015!!!
Finally some group pictures – our sincere thanks and appreciation to the staff and children at Cheshire….
And to Sharon, out tour guide at the Lusaka National Museum!
And Team Zambia 2016 for a great first day and prep for tomorrow’s activities at the University of Zambia (UNZA)