Lilongwe Outreach: Day 2

It’s Tuesday, and our second day of outreach in Lilongwe. Today we returned to the same village we visited yesterday, in order to give medication to the individuals we told to return to us, as well as to see any additional individuals in need of our services. The building we are working out of has power (win!), and a few separate rooms, so we were easily able to separate hearing aid programming and tympanometey and OAEs from the general bustle of the main room, where medication distribution, otoscopy, and cerumen management had been stationed.

We worked with the same team from ABC as yesterday, which is mostly comprised of interpreters who have been absolutely fantastic to work with. The team here has gotten really close, and really good at knowing when and where help is needed in our flow. While the group of interpreters took case histories, those of us in later stations jumped to stations that would see people first to lend a hand. We really are becoming a well oiled machine!

The day was a bit slower than yesterday in terms of volume of patients seen, so when we finished early we were able to visit with the children of the village. The kids were excited to share new words with us, and to learn new English words! We also played some soccer and got to hand out some stickers.

Dr. Helms-Tillery and Kayla taught the second class on Speech-Language pathology for Audiologists at the clinic, and then were able to travel to a couple more sites today. The class is an intense crash-course in all relevant areas of speech-language pathology, and is four hours a day this week!

After Outreach today, some of the group decided to go to the market because we had 30-45 minutes to spend before meeting up with Kayla and Dr. Helms-Tillery at the clinic. We set out to shop for chitenjis (an article of clothing here that can be worn like a skirt, used to carry babies, and many other things). The fabric can also be made into other things, like pants or skirts or bags. Laz, our driver and friend, took us to a local market and the experience was intense, to say the least.

The market seems to have an energy of its own, constantly buzzing and vibrant. The smell of freshly grilled meat and hot corn wafts through the air as the streets pulse with life. Shops and stands are packed along either side of the stone streets and dirt alleys. You could likely find just about anything at the market, from phone chargers, to mops and brooms, to fabrics and furniture. If you don’t know whe you’re looking for before you visit, you might find yourself wandering for hours taking everything in! Luckily, our group knew what we were after, but not so luckily, we discovered that there are MANY chitenji shops, with endless variety in pattern. After making some tough decisions on a few patterns, we decided it would be best to come back another day when we had at least a few hours to give to the market.

Tomorrow, we plan to visit a new site, which will be a hospital. Fletcher, the Malawian audiologist we are working with, predicts that the day will be a busy one, so we are settling  down for the night with hopes for a restful sleep!

Until next time,

Ashlea and the Hearing for Humanity team

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