Final thoughts…

The SLHS in Zambia 2016 program concludes…. a 4th group of Purdue University students had the opportunity of a lifetime to travel to Zambia, meet and work with each of our inspiring community partners, interact and work with the amazing children at the various locations, get clinical practice doing hearing (and vision) screenings, and also get some practice in providing professional development training by doing presentations and providing hands-on experiences to some of our community partners….


We had a very successful program thanks to a great student team that was able to “go with the flow”, adapt to changing situations, work well together, support and help each other, take initiative to do whatever was needed, and never complain!

Here are some snippets to share about the past two weeks:

Challenge 1:

  • We were involved in a minor fender-bender en route to the airport that delayed us more than an hour while the police report was completed…
  • BUT – we made it to the airport and the gate in time (though we were the last ones to board the plane!) – Whew!

Challenge 2:

  • Emirates had no record of our overnight hotel accommodations in Dubai…
  • BUT – we were able to call our travel agent in Indiana and get it sorted out (while students waited patiently)

Challenge 3:

  • The hotel in Dubai said the payment had not been made, so we had to pay…and the emergency Purdue credit card we had got declined…
  • BUT – we paid with a personal credit card (and thanks to the travel agent for wiring the money back to my account ASAP!)

Challenge 4:

  • Christi’s room at Zebra Guest House was full of cockroaches…
  • BUT – she calmly walked out so as to not alarm the students and got moved to a different room

Despite this “starting trouble” – once we started our daily work activities we were on a roll!!!!

And here are some gems from our nightly debriefing meetings…

Cheshire Homes:

  • A child was using toes to cut with scissors and working together with another child to glue. The children didn’t let their disability define them.



  • Question from a buddy: “What did you think of Africa before you came here? Did you envision naked people on the streets and lions everywhere?”
  • Zambians have the ideas and the technology – but they can’t apply them easily. They really have to problem solve to get things done. They understand the roadblocks and problem solve to get around them


Mthunzi Centre:

  • I expected to be sad (going to an orphanage), but I actually felt happy
    • They have this place, like a big family and a father figure who takes care of them
  • I thought to myself: “why are they so excited we are here? We are the ones who should be excited!”


Vera Chiluba Primary School:

  • I can’t believe we screened 400 students! (These are some of the best smiles of the UNZA students doing hearing screenings!)

Beit Cure Hospital:

  • Marriage advice from Chef Kelvin: “Be best friends, don’t make each other upset”


The Haven:

  • “This has been the hardest clinic since we have been here. Younger kids were harder to work with”


Special Hope Network:

  • “We are here for a short time – one place for one afternoon – but there is so much more. These kids’ life is not all happy times – we are not able to experience everything”
  • They mentioned Purdue University: “Purdue is back” – hopefully our program has a bigger impact in the long run



“The job is never done” – nurse who lives in a compound and provides nursing care to other residents at the compound after her work day

Conversation between staff member and child:

  • “Do you know why you have to take these medicines everyday?
  • Because I have HIV
  • What happens if you don’t take the medicine?
  • I am going to die”

This is the reality of the lives of children with HIV…


…yet there is so much work being done to improve the lives of children with HIV and with disabilities in Zambia. Each staff member at every one of the community partner organizations that we work with is passionate about improving the lives of these children, and we are indeed fortunate to have met and worked with each and every one of you!







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