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We’ve made it home!

After 40 hours of grueling travel the team has made it back to Arizona. As the bags get unpacked, and laundry is loaded into washers, we are all faced with getting back to reality. I can safely say we will all look back on our Malawian experience with great fondness. To aid in the nostalgia we have started a Flickr account for people to share their pictures with each other and with all of you dear readers. The first album can be found at the following link: https://flic.kr/s/aHskYKqoo7 Other albums will be posted as soon as everyone is able.

Kapowi Malawi!

Lizzie and the HFH Team

Malawi_1629

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Last day in Malawi, June 15

We wake from our beds today with heavy hearts, as we come to the groggy realization that we have reached our final day in the Warm Heart of Africa. It has been one of those bittersweet days. You know, that feeling of excitement you get when you think about returning home, intertwined with the feeling of sadness when you realize you’ll be leaving newfound friends and family. We look back on the time we’ve spent together over these last 5 weeks with warmth and appreciation toward the culture we have become so accustomed to.
How do you spend your final day in a destination with so much to offer? Obviously, part of the day must be consumed with packing for the journey home, which we decided to do this morning. Laz drove us to QECH to gather the last of our equipment and supplies to be divided into the 14 action packers returning home with us. A few of us stayed at QECH to assist with action packer packing, while others ventured into Blantyre to do some final shopping at the Chitinje market, Shoprite for groceries, and wood carving stands.
The evening ended with a delicious Italian buffet with the entire HFH team as well as audiology officers from QECH. We’ve really come together as a family throughout this trip, and that was made clear tonight. We shared in conversation while we enjoyed our chicken/chambo/beef/spaghetti/rice/seasonal veggies/vegetarian lasagna/potatoes (yeah, there was a ton of food; don’t forget about dinner and drinks as well) and talked about how we all fully intend on returning next year (because at this point, we all fully intend to). Regina and Robert, two of QECH’s Audiology officers, will be attending a gala at Starkey University in July just two days after the Audiology students leave Starkey University’s student workshop. We were all excited to hear that they will be flying to the United States, but sad to realize that we will miss seeing them by only two short days.
As we all settle into our beds in Blantyre for our final night, the reality of leaving this new home of ours sinks further into our hearts, but don’t be too concerned. As saddened as we are, we’re excited to be returning to the comforts of our own homes and to be greeted by close friends and family once again. We will awake for breakfast bright and early at 5:30am tomorrow morning, and plan to leave the comfort of Annie’s Lodge by 6:30 to catch our 9:45am back towards the US. See you all soon!

With love,
Calla and the HFH team

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Travel to Blantyre June 14

After a peaceful night of rest in Lilongwe, we reunited with Lazarus, our bus driver and dear friend, to make the 5ish hour journey back to Blantyre. The trip consisted of many a police stop, a wandering pig’s near death experience, and the gorgeous backdrop of Malawian countryside as we blazed southward towards our home-away-from-home with Pauline at Annie’s Lodge. By the time we made it into town, we were ready for dinner and bed, and not necessarily in that order. After traveling the country of Malawi, I think it’s safe to say that we will greatly miss our Malawian grandmother. Tomorrow is our free day, and will likely consist of packing and scavenging for last minute memories of the country we’ve grown so fond of. Saying goodbye will almost certainly feel more bitter than sweet, but we are excited to return to our loved ones back in The States. Here’s to the few more days we have left until we get to see your beautiful faces again!

Ashlea and the HFH team

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As we finished our last final breakfast from Thoricroft Lodge in Zambia, we head out to Tribal Textiles before our final destination-Lilongwe, Malawi.

As we stopped at Tribal Textiles, it was a small but powerful workforce, creating beautiful hand painted textiles. Their philosophy is fair wages, equality, and giving back to the local community.

Step 1: measure the fabric and label what design is supposed to be on it
Step 2: lay it out on the table and start starching. Starching is how you would creative starch, put it in a bottle and start drawing on the fabric.
Step 3: coloring the fabric. They get powder from South Africa, and only work with yellow, blue and red to create hundreds of different colors. It takes three years of training to mix and make colors!
Step 4: baking in the oven that takes 5 minutes and over 100 degrees Celsius
Step 5: Scraping the starch out, washing the fabric and drying them
Step 6: sewing into the final product- it could be an apron, pillow cases, table mats, etc
Step 7: tying up the fabrics into the finished product to be sold!

Check out their website at http://www.tribaltextiles.co.zm

Finally after multiple hours in the car, we arrived in Lilongwe. It’s our last night in Lilongwe before heading down to Blantyre!

Until next time,
HFH team 2017

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Safari Day 2

Safari day 2 began with another 5am wake up call from our trusty safari guides which got us up, dressed and full of tea before the sun was up. We then piled into our jeeps and headed off, reaching the park gates just minutes before it opened. As the sun rose, the nearly full moon hung low and luminous in the sky.

We began to search for the elusive lions but were quickly sidetracked when we saw a pack wild dogs hot on the trail of a herd of puku. We got what can only be described as “Animal Planet: Live In Action” as the dogs gained ground on the puku, and one lone doe was separated from the herd. As we watched with a mix of emotions ranging from shock to horror to just plain amazement, the dogs cornered her and she ran straight into one of our jeeps. As we stood in stunned silence, the poor puku was overtaken by the dogs. The dogs scrambled to each get a piece of their kill and emerged with paws and faces bloody. Our guide, Steven, assured us that this was simply the circle of life.

We turned back to our original mission: find the lions. We drove up, down and all around Luangwa in our Indiana Jones Jeeps. We came across zebras, giraffes, hippos, impala, bush bucks, puku, leopards, and countless other animals but still NO LIONS. We headed back to refuel, have a delicious lunch and yet another cup of tea, and to get ready for our night safari.

Setting out for one last adventure with the anticipation of catching a glimpse of the lions, we were all anxious. As the sun began to go down we could feel the tension mounting in our endless search. I am still in awe at the way they can spot animals at a distance in the dark! At one point Steven stopped, threw the jeep in reverse, and pointed out a chameleon perched on a bush. The one animal that is made to camouflage and our guides were able to spot it from 10 feet away while driving 30mph, in the dark. To say that they are good at what they do is an understatement.

Even though our night did not end with a lion sighting, it did end with a view of the stars that can’t be beat. Although we are all excited to get back home in a few days, while staring up at the Milky Way it’s hard to imagine ever leaving this beautiful place we have come to call home.

The next couple days will be filled with traveling and getting things in order for our trip home.

Xoxo,

Taylor

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Safari Day 1 – June 9 and 10

Sorry for the delay we’ve been off the grid in Zambia for the weekend! Our drive on Friday was a very lengthy one to get to our lodge. Upon our arrival we were told our schedule for the weekend and the do and do nots of the lodge. Our lodge over looked this beautiful river which wasn’t as high as it usually is due to the dry season now. In that river were numerous hippos and the occasional crocodile. We were told that if you heard leaves crunching at night time it most likely would be the hippos eating the leaves or the elephants, that’s why we had to be escorted to our rooms by watchmen after dinner.

Saturday started bright and early before the sunrise so we could eat our breakfast and get to South Lugwanga National Park to start our 2 day safari adventure…….

This is your safari tour guide Sara here to show you some of the wild animals that live here in South Lugwanga Park. We started off with the spotting of lion footprints and followed them in the hopes of a lion spotting. The lions haven’t been spotted in three whole days so we were determined to find them. Our first animal sighting was of a pack of impalas who normally have one male and the rest females. Next up was some giraffes who were eating their breakfast. Traveling through the park we came upon wart hogs aka Puma from the Lion King and discovered their sleeping quarters. The wart hogs back into their holes (which can sleep as many as 8) to protect themselves from predators. Driving along as the sun rises we were on the hunt for animals coming back in from their morning hunt. In the tall grass nearly impossible to see without the trained eye was the spots of a leopard. It was so stealthy that some didn’t even get a good look at it. The zebras were seen with their unique stripe pattern similar to our fingerprints eating with bulging bellies. The morning safari concluded with a stop for tea and the spotting of elephants!

During our break some people took some rest and relaxation in different ways either napping or relaxing in the spa during their treatment. We enjoyed another tea time before the night safari.

The night safari started off with the sighting of multiple vehicles crowding around what could possibly be the lions. Getting in closer to find out it was actually a pack of African Wild Dogs. The dogs were sleeping in the tall grass but would soon wake to hunt for their dinner. After watching with no sign of movement we moved on. While crossing over a ravine there it was just sitting there in the shade, a leopard! We took the pack of azungus on a hunt to get a closer look at the leopard! It got up and started walking in the ravine, we drove back onto the other side and there it was right down below us! It came up and was practically staring at us as if we were dinner. In all reality it is unfazed by a truck full of people but it still walked right next to us. Taking a break from the action for a rest stop didn’t last long because the African Wild Dogs were on the move! Get back in the car and we were off! The pack spreads out to be most effective with an 80% kill rate. But they were on the move to get their dinner, luckily their dinner got away for now. The sun sank and the savanna night life came alive. Not knowing where you are or what can pop out at any time keeps you on the edge of your seat or puts you into your neighbors. No lion sighting tonight but stayed tuned for the second day of our safari adventures with tour guide Taylor!

-Safari guide Sara signing off

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Championship Match at Mzuzu Central Hospital Arena – June 8th

It was the final stretch for team ASU, palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy. The underdog Mzuzu team joined forces with the Nkhata Bay team to create an all-star lineup to finish gold. The Mzuzu team started the first quarter at 8 a.m. and anticipated the Nkhata Bay talent to arrive at 9 a.m. with a veteran coach who had new team synergy strategies. We continued to be undefeated as each of the 121 patients (pts) left the field with a smile on their face and 33 ears were adorned with hearing aids — the crowd went wild! Our gold medal was well deserved, as our team morale was never deflated, and jokes/positive vibes were the only things to enhance our performance. We packed up our uniforms and equipment as the students basked in the glory of completing clinical hours in Malawi.

With the end of the 2017 season, the grand total stats are as follows:
Personal record: 1628 audiology/speech pathology pts (That’s 271 touchdowns, 543 3-pointers, or 5.42 perfect bowling games!)
Medals given: Over 400 hearing aids
Batting Average: 109 pts per day
Average Service speed: 18 pts/hr

In the post-game interview, we would like to thank:
Our head coaches: Ingrid McBride, Stephanie Adamovich, and Kate Helms Tillary
Special teams: QECH Audiology, ABC Audiology, Able Kids Foundation
Our devoted fans: Friends, family, and HFH supporters

Move over Jordan, Ali, and Manning, the new G.O.A.T. is ASU HFH 2017.

Cheers,

Rochelle and the HFH Team

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Match 3

We woke up today ready to get match 3 underway. Yesterday went so well, we were able to jump right into the same routine. As our day was under way, we got surprise news that we would be gaining another team member from Nhkata Bay. It was as if a penalty kill was over and it was nothing but success the rest of the day. The team worked as smoothly as a puck moving across the ice. In fact, no buzzer beater was needed. We blew them out of the water by 3:30pm. That includes seeing our last patient off with his hearing aids. Our final count totaled to 92 patients with 19 hearing aids fit. Just as we ended the day, we got word that we will be getting some new recruits tomorrow. We’ve been scouting the Nhkata Bay area and now will have 7 rookies coming to help the team. Sure we have home field advantage, but we are geared up and ready to take on the championship match (a.k.a. final day of outreach). With some great play by plays, we rewarded ourselves with a trip to the chitenje market where we navigated some narrow ally ways to find some trophy fabrics. 

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Match 2 – from June 6

The team was back in the ring for round 2 today with a few adjustments and suggestions to our game plan. The team huddle this morning was full of positive vibes and we were ready to hit the ground running! After 20 minutes, the well oiled machine was off and running with the sight and sounds of lines of people waiting for all the different stations. We must thank our interpreters who also work at mzuzu hospital for executing our game plan with such ease and increasing our ability to communicate with the patients exponentially. They are the MVP’s of the week! The collaborative effort increased during day 2 as everyone got their bearings on their positions. As the clock wound down to the last seconds, we finished 97 patients and fit 48 hearing aids which is a significant improvement from our overtime performance yesterday. Day 3 is sure to bring us new opponents and challenges, but as this team gets to know each other, we are more and more unstoppable. We are all still so humbled by the gratitude and warmth we are shown by all the patients on a daily basis. Some waiting hours in line , it can’t be easy, but they demonstrate humility and patience throughout. It just goes to show that effort to help a fellow human goes a long way at the end of the day. 

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Divide and conquer – from Monday June 5

Divide and conquer. That is the theme of this week. Half the team is in Nkhata Bay while we are in Mzuzu, a town about an hour away.

Monday was the first day our team has been split and we are working under a new in country partner, the African Bible College.
We are on the final stretch of outreach and tensions are running high. A new coach was introduced at a pivotal moment in our team’s season with just a week left in play. Our flow and collaboration was disrupted from the get go. Miscommunication caused confusion. But by halftime our team was back on our feet and quality services were provided.
Post game debrief included troubleshooting and adjusting our game plan for day two. We’re prepared to implement our changes to make this last week a strong finish. On Monday, just over 80 people were seen and 24 hearing aids were fitted.
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