Day 8: The Haven

Today we drove back from Livingstone to Lusaka, but this year we had an added activity along the way. Instead of visiting the Haven we can now call them another one of our special community partners as we stopped to screen the ~45 children there. We left Chanters Lodge feeling sad that we may not go back there (depending on what happens to the Lodge) and remembering Mr. Chanter.


Arriving at the Haven at about 9:30 we started screening and finished about 1:00 and were on our way for the rest of the drive back….here is a reflection on the day:

From Alli:

The Haven is an orphanage that watches after children anywhere from several weeks to 5 years old or however long it may take to find a safe place for the child. But this isn’t like any other orphanage because their mission is to temporarily care for the children until they can place them back in their own families. Usually, the children need to stay at the orphanage because the family doesn’t have the means to care for them at the time, their mother passed away or some situations were not safe for them. Meagan Hawley, who is from the United States, is the head person at The Haven who kept the place running. It was inspiring to see how she interacted with the children, the local people, and how much respect was given to her for all the work she is putting in there (google “The Haven” to follow her blog and search “Megan Hawley” on Instagram to keep up with happenings at The Haven! You can even buy a t-shirt to help buy a school bus for the children). There were also college students from Harding University there on a mission trip to work and stay with these children for five weeks. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to interact with these students much or hear their stories but it was awesome to see other students from the United States in Zambia trying to do work where it was needed. Although some of these children’s stories were heart breaking, it was remarkable to see they had a safe and happy place to be.


Meagan calming a baby for the screening

This was the first more hectic day our team has experienced. We were mostly screening babies under the age of three, so from experience, I know that we work on their schedule. I love all of our team that is here and we were able to overcome the chaos and get our job done. I was really proud of everyone, especially the undergraduate students on the trip who have less experience screening younger babies. The girls on this trip have made it truly special and I am so thankful for the friendships I have made through such a unique experience.


At The Haven, I was holding a child who was 8 months old waiting to be screened. He was crying, could not calm down and I tried everything in my power to quiet him down so we could screen him. I finally got Megan, the one in charge at The Haven, and asked what could be wrong with him and if there was anything I could do. She told me that she would take him because he just doesn’t take well a to white person other than herself, who is with him everyday. This was somewhat shocking to me since the majority of the children we have been screening have adjusted well to all of us. The Haven is about 5 hours from Lusaka and this isolation from the city may be the reason why they are not more exposed to white people versus the children we have been working with previously in Zambia’s capital city of Lusaka. This whole situation was a unique experience for me!

Up until today, I have loved the work we are doing, but haven’t really felt like I personally was making much of an impact here in Zambia. A special experience today changed that. I worked with a 30-year-old woman who had a hearing aid but it was not working properly for her. It was given to her without a full hearing evaluation 10 years ago and she hasn’t been able to hear well since. I screened her, although there was a known hearing loss and gave proper recommendations. I had to talk to her father because she did not understand English. When I was done counseling him about her situation, he asked me why I was here in Zambia. I discussed the mission of our group, to screen and identify children with hearing loss or children who need immediate medical attention, and push for them to get the proper help that they need. He shook my hand, hugged me and told me that we were doing God’s work and that God is with us always in what we do here in Zambia as well as in the future. He wouldn’t let me leave without knowing his full gratitude and appreciation for what we were doing here. This was a special moment that made me realize even though our work may be small in the grand scheme of things, we are here doing something and hopefully in the long run, this program can leave a larger impact on Zambia and the people here who need our help most.








What a day it was today!!! Although safari days are always fun, this year was extra special!!!! We started with the boat safari as usual in the morning and saw baby crocodiles..




…Cape buffalo


…lots and lots of impala…


…water monitor lizard…



thumb_DSCN3228_1024and more hippos!

thumb_DSCN3247_1024The onto our jeep safari (game drive) after a sumptuous buffet lunch at the lodge…

and we saw giraffes…




thumb_DSCN3363_1024…more elephants (and baby elephants)!!…


And for the grand finale – LIONS!!!



We ended the day with a wonderful dinner at Olga’s. Tomorrow we are back to work – driving back to Lusaka with a stop in Kalomo to screen the children at the Haven. But more on that tomorrow….


Day 6: Victoria Falls!!

An early start this morning (7:00am) to set off for Livingstone to see Victoria Falls. We reached Chanters Lodge at 2:15pm and were shown to our rooms. Anastasia came out to greet us but not Mr. Chanter who is also usually there (so I assumed he must be out). Unfortunately, Anastasia came into my room and gave me the sad news that Mr. Chanter passed away last Friday after a brief illness.

This is my fourth visit to Chanters Lodge and Mr. Chanter has always been there to welcome us. I will remember his gentle demeanor and warm welcome to Chanters Lodge each year, and miss seeing him.

This year our driver and tour guide for the Falls was Godfrey (although I told him to convey my regards to Oliver who took care of us last year and he did so immediately by calling Oliver!).


We were greeted at the entrance to the Falls by monkeys as usual; Godfrey told us they stay close to the road to try and steal maize from trucks that transport it along the road!

The falls were majestic and awe-inspiring as usual. The name Mosi-o-tunya (Smoke that thunders) is well-fitting indeed as the mist (smoke) from the falls can be seen from afar….

…and also heard roaring like thunder! (see video on our facebook page at )

We had the usual tour, seeing the falls bit by bit as we walked from the upper Zambezi….



towards the lower part where we got thoroughly soaked…


And saw a double rainbow!


Great feeling after getting soaked seeing Vic Falls!

After dinner at the Lodge we had an early night. Tomorrow we leave early (7:00am) for our day trip to Botswana to the Chobe National Park for our safari!!

Day 5: Beit Cure Hospital and more…

Today started at Beit Cure Hospital: the reason this whole program began, with the help of Alfred Mwamba and Chisomo Selemani back in 2012. Although neither were there today, my thanks are always with them because without their help, support and contacts, none of this would have happened.

thumb_DSCN2941_1024Students rotated through stations including Audiology…

thumb_DSCN2927_1024the kitchen…

thumb_DSCN2933_1024and the children’s ward and laundry where I was not there to take any pics.

We met old friends Patson, Precious, and Dr. Uta in Audiology /ENT and a new friend Mwasona…


And good old friends Kelvin, Elijah and Mbita (not pictured) in the kitchen…

In the evening we met up with our UNZA buddies for a pizza dinner…and they surprised us with beautiful gifts that they took out from their pockets! (How does a beautiful top fit in a pocket?!!!)

thumb_DSCN3005_1024Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts UNZA students!

Day 4: Vera Chiluba Primary School

Today was a day of “firsts” as well as a record-breaking day for the program: in one day we screened 402 children (a record!) at the Vera Chiluba Primary School partnering along with our UNZA buddies (a first!)! The team ran like a well-oiled machine and worked fantastically well together to get 204 children screened in the morning and 198 in the afternoon. Our students set up the equipment quickly, went wherever they were needed, helped with anything that was necessary and in general seemed to enjoy the day immensely. What a great cultural learning experience they had today working in a clinical setting with the UNZA students. For lack of better words, “Go team”!!!!

From Stacia:

It is so hard to believe that today is already THURSDAY! The week is going by too quick!


Team Zambia 2016 ready for another day!

Today we all went with our UNZA student buddies to a nearby primary school to do screenings on children in the first grade.


Mwila and Stacia

After training them on Tuesday at the university, all of the students I talked to were very excited for the hands on experience! When we arrived at the school it was a very different environment than we have had earlier in the week. There were many students there, I heard that the primary school consisted of around 900 children and about 200 in the first grade, which we were screening, so we were prepared for a busy day! I learned from some UNZA students that schools in Zambia are very different from those in the U.S. Here they have a morning session and an afternoon session at the primary school because of the overabundance of children in need of education, this way all of the children can have the opportunity to attend, if only for a short time. It is also very common for children who are much older to be in first grade. This is because due to rural living situations some children may not be able to travel the distance to school until they are much older. They are then most likely put into the first grade with much younger students because it is their first academic experience.
Upon our arrival, we split into groups, 5 pure tone stations, 1 OAE station (used when necessary), and 4 case history/visual inspection stations. I started helping at the case history stations first, and the UNZA students were great!


It was unbelievable how having students who spoke the native language of the children (Nyanja) was SO HELPFUL and made the process run so much smoother. When I was trying to collect names, it was difficult for me to hear the child because they are soft spoken, understand what name they were saying, know how to spell it, and then repeat the whole process again for the last name! I have a HUGE appreciation for the UNZA students and their ability to communicate with the children. They were great when interacting and asking questions. I helped out a lot at first, especially when the children repeatedly said that they had ear pain, further questions were then needed, “which ear?” “does your ear hurt now?” and “when does it hurt?” It was so helpful to have the buddies to translate those questions so the child could understand. After an extended period of time, I began to feel frustrated that almost every single child was answering “yes” to the questions “do you have ear pain?” and “have you had recent discharge from your ear?” I could not understand why the children acted this way, but found that I needed to remind myself that some of these children may actually have ear pain and that my only responsibility was to see that they got the best care available. In retrospect with the reflections of some members on the trip, the children’s responses may have attributed to a cultural trend in which children frequently respond “yes” to their elders, or others in respectful positions. What a learning experience, particularly about culture.
Next, I transferred inside of the building to run a pure tone station with two UNZA students.

It was a unique experience to be the teacher rather than the one learning about the machine now, especially as an undergraduate! I was very impressed with both of them and their abilities, especially since it was their first time screening. The part that stood out to me the most was the way that they interacted with the children. They made them feel comfortable by speaking in Nyanja, made sure the instructions were clear that the child needed to raise their hand when the tone was presented, did an example where the child needed to participate, and most importantly SMILED! They are going to be EXCELLENT special needs teachers when they graduate, their patience, love, and care are all so apparent!
We also had an afternoon of screening sessions, which also went very smoothly! We ended up screening 402 children today, due to the fact that several children who were not in first grade wandered into our screening line because they wanted to be part of the excitement. It warmed my heart! Tomorrow we will have our farewell dinner with our UNZA buddies, it has been such a pleasure to meet and talk with all of the students from the university and see them excel in their practical experience today!

From Whitney:

Today we went to a primary school with our UNZA buddies to screen every child in grade 1. This particular school housed grades 1 to 7 and by the end of the day we managed to screen about 400 children. Although screening that many children was wonderful, the best part was that we were able to do this with the students we previously met just 2 days prior.


Carol and Whitney

They were excited to have the opportunity to have some “hands on” learning, and quite honestly it was fun to sit back and watch them enjoying the experience. As I observed the several screenings that took place, I did notice one big difference between us and our interactions with the children. In the United States we give praise so easily to children and I see myself doing this too, especially when testing kids (the child raises their hand to our tone, we clap and give them a high-five). The UNZA students we were with did not do this. It was almost as if it was expected that the child would follow directions and, in fact, they did. The younger students respected the older students and their demeanor reflected this. At first, I wanted to correct them and explain that they should give them some type of positive reward but I realized it was most likely a cultural difference and my way of doing things was not better than theirs.


The other interesting observation I made during the day was the large amount of children who circled around and peered into the windows of the building we were in. They all wanted to talk to us and just say hello. I am still not used to that phenomenon and am not sure I ever will be. To me, we are not that different and although they may see certain advantages that we have, I know that they have some advantages we are missing out on too. With each day I try to remind myself to be fully present as I meet new people and experience new things. Tomorrow we are going to be at Beit Cure Hospital making rotations through different parts of the hospital-this will vary from being in the kitchen to observing the ear, nose and throat physician. I know we are all excited to be there and to have another day in Zambia!

We ended the day by signing certificates for all the participants at the professional development workshop that we presented at UNZA earlier this week…..


while the students watched some kids break dancing!!!!


Day 3 Addendum: Run-in w/the President!

Excitement at the Lilayi Elephant Orphanage when a student exclaimed “the President is here”!! I turned around looking for President Edgar Lungu – to find myself looking at a face that looked very familiar, but I could not place it. Aha – it was the past Vice President of Zambia who became acting President for three months when President Michael Sata died in office in October 2014: Guy …..(could not remember last name at the time), but we had seen him in a video. So of course I went up to him and said I was happy to meet him and had seen him in a video. Unfortunately since I could not remember his last name (Scott), and therefore did not greet him by name, he was not very friendly.

But thanks Kelsey for capturing these pics!!!!!

Day 3: Elephant Orphanage and Mthunzi Centre

Both happy and sad news at the Elephant Orphanage that FOUR students write about below (yes folks: get ready for a LONG post): we learned that two of the baby elephants we saw last year (Musolele and Zambezi) have been transferred to the Kafue Release Facility. This is the next step in the long process that may span more than 15 years until the elephants become independent in the forest – yay! But we also learned that little Suni that we had also met last year wearing a boot to help her walk after she had been partially paralyzed had been put to sleep because her leg got severely infected and could not be treated 😦 Several of us bought Suni elephant dolls that are made by local women and the proceeds help the women as well as the elephant orphanage…


Words cannot describe how inspirational Mr. Malama is – we are so fortunate that Alfred introduced him to us three years ago and we have had the opportunity to work with him and his children each year. Can’t post videos on this blog (or can’t figure out how) so see our facebook page at SLHS in Zambia for videos.

Read on…….

From Kelsey:

Day 3 and a successful day indeed! Today our group visited the Elephant Orphanage Project where we got to watch two baby elephants eat and interact with one another!

Here, abandoned elephants are taken in and nurtured until they are ready for release back into the wild. The action was a bit anticlimactic until little Nkala had a flare up of flatulence, which we caught on video thanks to Ellen. Nevertheless, it was quite the experience to learn the elephants’ eating schedules, how they got to the orphanage, and their deep attachment to the “mothers”/ elephant keepers.

The most eye opening fact came from the orphanage manager who explained to us that elephants could be extinct in less than ten years due to poachers. It’s incredibly sad to think that such a gentle animal that many people have grown up loving could possibly disappear from the earth so quickly. Poachers hunt these animals for their ivory tusks, skin, and even their meat. Many efforts have been made against poachers to stop this unnecessary catastrophe towards the elephants, but with little success the elephants remain in grave danger throughout Africa. The Elephant Orphanage Project is a safe haven for these animals to receive love and nurturing until ready to be returned to their natural habitat.

Next, we arrived at Mthuzi Center, and orphanage for young children to provide otoscopy, pure tone screenings and OAEs.


With welcoming spirits, we were graciously introduced to the students by the coordinator of the orphanage, Mr. Malama. The amount of mutual and genuine respect the children and Mr. Malama shared was amazing to witness. Knowing that these children don’t have immediate families but have a staff who love and care about them, specifically Mr. Malama, touched my heart. They are orphans, but they are one big family.


Mr. Malama – an inspiration to all of us!

We split up into five pairs, four with pure tone screens and one pair doing otoscopy in the courtyard between the classrooms. I was assigned to pure tones for the first half of the day with Amber…


and then had the opportunity to do otoscopy for the second half.

With very few complications, everything ran smoothly and the our team machine was flowing efficiently. Our average time screening a child was about one minute for all 85 children! In the words of Dr. Krishnan, “Go team!”

I was impressed at the level of maturity and respect they had for each other. There was one young child who didn’t speak English, but he had three other little boys holding his hand and explaining my instructions to him in Nyanja before I performed otoscopy on him. It was heart warming to see how these children interact with one another and have each others’ backs. They are so loved, not only by Mr. Malama and the staff, but by one another.

The highlight of my day was getting to play futbol with the kids when we were all finished! Because we completed the screenings earlier than expected, we had some spare time. Yes, hearing screenings are fun, but letting out some energy with these kids was a way to end this day perfectly. Everyone was running around on the dust field and having a good time. I think the kids enjoyed making us look like the less athletic/ experienced bunch on the field (i.e. when I got a ball square to the face). It was so fun to interact with them on a whole new level and to see them having a good time.

Day 3 was a huge success for our team! Today could not have gone any better 🙂

From Liz:

Today was another great day of exploring Zambia’s Elephant Orphanage and performing hearing screenings at Mthunzi Center. The elephant orphanage was such a cool experience, and we learned that this organization takes in elephants who have been abandoned, left behind, or disoriented and nourishes them for many years until they are able to eventually wean them from human contact and ensure their independence and survival back into nature where they belong. Elephants could be extinct in the next 10 years, and what this organization is doing is truly remarkable. They have 9 elephant keepers who rotate and take turns taking care of the elephants to give them emotional support and help them feel secure and less distraught. They cannot stay with one keeper for too long because they do not want the elephant to become too attached and not able to survive without them, so that is why the keepers have shifts and rotate throughout each day. They even sleep with the elephants and cover them with blankets at night to help them feel secure and well accompanied. It was important and surprising for me to learn that elephant hunting is illegal, but people still do it for the money they can make from ivory. Additionally, some have begun to eat elephant meat, and, in the United States, apparently some companies have even used elephant skin to make shoes!
We all stood on an overlook and viewed these baby elephants as they were fed milk by their keepers, ate leaves, and interacted with each other.

At the elephant orphanage, we even ran into the former Vice President of Zambia!! Although we could not remember his name, and he didn’t seem too thrilled, it was an exciting moment for us!
Next, we spent the day after lunch at Mthunzi Center and Orphanage. When we first got off the bus, friendly children and staff greeted us. They gave us an introduction and told us that some of these kids stay at the orphanage and receive schooling, counseling, and other services until they are old enough to find work on their own or until their family situation improves. Some other kids live at home and just come during the day, and then they return home at night. This was really awesome to hear that Mthunzi really does try their best to find a different family member for the child or eventually allow the child go back with their original family if the situation improves. They do not want to deprive them of that relationship. As the head of Mthunzi, Mr. Malama, told us about their mission, all the kids sat in complete silence. I was amazed at the respect and admiration they had for Mr. Malama, as he is probably the closest thing to a father figure they have ever had. He could easily laugh with them, yet he could also silence the room by just saying one word. Children in the United States often do not listen to the parental figures or authority the very first time they are asked to do something, and it was neat to see the mutual bond and respect that Mr. Malama had with each of the children.
It made me comfortable to be there, especially knowing that these children are very loved and accepted into Mthunzi as family. I had always associated the term “orphanage” with a sadness and heartbreak, but I was happy and at ease with the joy that these children radiated because of the great care provided to them.
As we performed the 85 hearing screenings, the kids were eager and so happy to be there! Most of them caught onto the task very well, and they loved the stickers that we gave them afterwards.


Our team was very efficient in getting all the kids screened, so we used some extra time at the end to play soccer with them! They have some mad skills, I must say! They put us to shame! I noticed that they all played in their bare feet, but this did not bother them at all. My version of dirty is definitely not the same as theirs!

Next, a group of boy scouts and their leader came up to us and taught us a chant where we jumped to a beat, and that was a very cool aspect of the culture that I had not yet witnessed.


This group also wanted pictures with us, and this made me wonder if they rarely see white people, if ever. Before we left, I heard a boy say to one student on our team, “You’ll miss me? Promise me!” He was very sweet and did not want to see us leave, and I can say that the feeling is mutual…we all did not want to leave either! Overall, it was another great day of learning, both culturally and clinically!

From Jena:

Today was a wonderful day! We started the day off with coffee (I had a frappe) and then went to Lilayi, an elephant orphanage. They are currently caring for two baby elephants. We saw them eat and play. It was interesting to hear and learn about the elephants and what this place is doing to help. Fun fact: baby elephants drink 2L of milk every three hours. Workers follow the elephants 24/7 until the elephants can be released back into the wild. They get released into the Kafue National Park around the age of four. It was sad to hear that poaching is a big problem. The workers said that 35,000 elephants are killed each year in southern Africa and in the next ten years they think elephants may be extinct.

While we were there, we saw Guy Scott, former Vice President and interim President. We were all excited because we watched a video about Zambia before coming and he was in it.
After Lilayi, we headed to Mthunzi Center, a children’s orphanage. Mthunzi was not what I expected. I thought it was going to be a sad place but the kids were so fun and happy to see us. When we arrived, we were introduced to the director, Mr. Malama, and he told us about the center. Their goal is to help children in difficult situations in any way they can. They also try to work out the situations to place the children back with family members. The director was so nice and we could tell how much he cared about the children and how much they respected him. Mr. Malama had a child say a prayer before we began. It was heartwarming seeing all the children praying together. The child was so thoughtful and prayed for people less fortunate than himself. This just goes to show that they are so appreciative for what they have and they know some people may not even have the opportunities they have.
When we started screening, Whitney and I began doing otoscopy. It was different to be doing this outside but it we worked with the space we had. It was a great feeling to look in the child’s ear and be able to see the cone of light. I was so excited!

After a little while, Whitney and I did pure tone screening. One little boy was so excited to listen for the beeps. As soon as he heard one, his hand jetted into the air. He was done really quick. He was a bit sad he could not keep listening for the beeps. The children kept us smiling. Most of the children were easy to screen and we ended up screening around 90 children in an hour and a half.

We ended the day with a beautiful sunset and a game of football (soccer). They had two soccer goals made out of tree branches. Lots of children played and they were so good. I had a blast playing with them! Soccer seems very popular here.

On the bus, we passed numerous children playing soccer and have seen it on TV multiple times. It was neat being able to play a game that is so popular here. After soccer, our feet were covered in dirt. Most of the children did not wear shoes so their feet were even dirtier. The dirt did not bother them. It made me appreciate and feel lucky to have a pair of shoes. As we were leaving, a scout troop asked if we wanted to join them doing a traditional nature chant. It was a great way to end a wonderful day. Tomorrow we get to spend more time with our UNZA buddies doing hearing screenings at a local school!

From Erin:

Today was just plain awesome! We started off the beautiful morning with a trip to an Elephant Orphanage. This special place takes in elephants that have either been separated from the herd or even elephants whose mother was killed by poachers. Without the orphanage, these elephants would not survive. Once they are rescued, they are bottle fed, constantly with a gate keeper who offers them emotional support, and even given blankets to sleep with to cope through the tough process of recovery. The Lilayi Elephant Nursery’s main goal is to release the elephants back into the wild! This is especially crucial because 35,000 elephants are killed every year in southern Africa alone. The manager at the site told us he wouldn’t be surprised if elephants are extinct within the next 7-8 years. He also told us how some companies in the U.S are using elephant skin to make shoes and other goods to be sold. This shocked me so much because I couldn’t believe that anyone would want to kill these majestic animals!

After heading back on the bus, and buying souvenirs of course, our next stop was to the Mthunzi Center. This is an orphanage for young boys who have nowhere else to go, or even for boys who have a tough family situation at home. The Center is led by Mr. Malama, who upon meeting him I could tell was such a special man. He greeted us with such a large smile and lit up when talking about the center and all they offer the children. The Mthunzi Center’s main goal is to help children in struggling situations become model citizens of Zambia. The boys have responsibilities, go to school, and of course manage to have lots of fun! Before starting our hearing screenings, Mr. Malama asked one of the boys to pray for all of us. I couldn’t help but to get choked up. The love and happiness I felt from those children touched me so much because they are rising above their circumstances. They may not have a lot of toys or personal possessions, but they have an abundance of faith, support, and hope. I saw many instances where the children didn’t hesitate to help out one another. While screening a young child who couldn’t speak English, 2 young boys were of course by his side to make sure he felt comfortable and at ease by translating for us. No one asked these boys to do this, they simply knew. That is exactly what the Mthunzi Center offers, a place for children to turn to when there is no one else to go. Clinically, this experience allowed me to practice my skills while communicating to someone who may not understand me and furthered my experience with using a pure tone audiometer. After the day was over we had screened 85 people!


We finished our visit up with a fun soccer game in the field behind the Center, which for me meant just standing because soccer is definitely not my biggest strength! Our team feels forever grateful for Mr. Malama and the young boys at the Mthunzi Center. We are so thankful that they allowed us to come screen them!


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