Nkhata Bay Week 4

 

Nkhata Bay!

Internet in Nkhata Bay has been non-existent so sorry to friends and family for the lack of posts.

Friday morning we all headed to the ABC Clinic to pack up our action packers before setting off to the North. We had to pack 2 sets of supplies in action packers because next week our team will be split in 2. Half of us are going to be staying in Nkhata Bay after the weekend and the other half will be continuing on to Mzuzu. After we packed up we went to a bank to exchange more money and to the grocery store to buy snacks for the road. The strip mall with the grocery store actually had 2 places to buy food. The first is Shoprite, it is a common supermarket like QFC/Jewel/Publix, the other store was called Food Lovers and resembled a Whole Foods. Once we were all stocked up we got going (albeit a little behind schedule).

The drive was absolutely beautiful and we got to see the sunset over the mountains from the bus. When we arrived at Mayoka Village (our housing for the weekend/week) it was dark and we were slightly less than thrilled. We all had to pass a GIANT spider on the way down the stairs and many of our rooms were walled with sticks leaving small gaps in the wall. There were 8 of us in a dorm and we all wrapped ourselves in blankets and bug nets to ensure nothing would get through to mess with us in the night.

Saturday morning we all awoke to find Mayoka Village to be beautiful and much more welcoming than the night before. There are about 20 individual huts of various sizes and shapes all spotted among a hill leading down to Lake Malawi. We all started getting our workout early in the morning since to get anywhere around the property you have to climb lots and lots of stairs.

Throughout the day everyone got to eat tons of very cheap but delicious food, swim in the lake, rent paddle boards, and read for fun. Many of us have been passing around a set of books and we are all worried about what is going to happen when the books run out. Early afternoon a local named Happy Coconut came buy and took orders for us all to get wood carving kay chains.

Early in the evening another local named Alex came and invited us to a local gathering for dinner, dancing, and drumming. We all were excited for the opportunity to see traditional Malawi dancing so jumped at the opportunity. Alex picked us up at 7 and we walked over to the beach. We found a table and chairs set up for us right along the water. We were served chicken or fish with greens, nsima, and tomato sauce. Nsima is a local food made of corn meal, you pick it up and roll it with your fingers and dip it in sauce or use it to pick up veggies. Many Malawians say that if they haven’t had their nsima they haven’t eaten that day. After the delicious meal we moved our chairs around a camp fire and were treated to dances by local girls and drumming by local men. The girls were all in a group led by women about our ages and younger girls falling in line behind them. After a few dances, during the finale the girls invited us to dance with them. We all jumped in and danced around the fire on the beach. After dancing we headed back to Mayoka Village and all crashed for the night, it had been a busy day.

Sunday we all woke up and half of the team had to begin packing to head out to Mzuzu. The other half of the team packed up to move out of the dorm and into a new room. The Mzuzu team headed out around 11:30 for a 2 hour drive to the West. The Nkhata Bay team was able to stay back and relax for another day before starting our last week of clinic.

Monday the Nkhata Bay team loaded up in the HARK from ABC and headed to the Nkhata Bay Hospital. We will be at the hospital for all 4 days this week. With Blessings, Gospel, and Fletcher representing ABC, and Dr. McBride, Taylor, CT, Ashlea, Sara, Calla, and Lizzie representing ASU, we had a solid team. All day we had a solid stream of patients, many of whom needed hearing aids. Our last patient of the day was a little girl who needed a hearing aid following a malaria treatment that left her totally deaf in one ear and partially deaf in the other ear. In our stash of hearing aids we managed to find her a pink hearing aid to match her all pink outfit.

Tuesday was a lot like Monday, a steady stream of patients with lots of hearing tests and aids. We saw one patient who still had his hearings aids that the HFH gave him last year and they still worked perfectly!

The rest of the week we hope to see many more patients and enjoy Mayoka Village.

Cheers Lizzie

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Outreach St. Gabriel’s Hospital Day 2

 

Thursday, June 1st

Second day at St. Gabriel’s Hospital and the last day of Speech Language Pathology instruction for the Audiology Officer students at the African Bible College (ABC) Clinic.

As you know, yesterday at St. Gabriel’s we saw a lot of patients and fitted almost 50 hearing aids! So the group decided to resume the same stations and responsibilities they had the day before to ensure maximum efficiency.

We saw a total of 210 patients today and fitted 57 hearing aids. It was quite a successful, busy, and exhausting second day.

Back at the ABC clinic, two speech students stayed behind with Dr. Helms-Tillery to aid in her lecture about developmental and acquired language disorders, aphasia, TBI (traumatic brain injury) and a quick recap on behavioral adaptations for autistics. The Malawian audiology students were engaged and asked great questions throughout the 4-hour lecture. The speech students enjoyed the opportunity to share their knowledge with material they had just learned the previous semester. It was one of those moments where you thought, oh I really am learning something during graduate school. (So shout out to all the parents and friends who are supporting our crazy academic endeavors!) The speechies concluded their day at clinic doing aural rehabilitation sessions with two children with cochlear implants.

The outreach team and speechies reconnected and met for a well-deserved dinner out. The team went to a restaurant called Mama Mia’s for pizza and other Italian foods. Upon entry we saw a picture of Bill Clinton dining at Mama Mia’s framed at the restaurant. We all have been talking about how much we miss eating pizza, so this was a HUGE treat for us.  CHEERS C.T.

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Outreach: Saint Gabriel Hospital

I want to start off today’s post with a GINORMOUS shoutout to the entire team today for working as hard and as well as we all did. We were able to fit 29 people with hearing aids today, which equates to 47 hearing aids (not every patient was a candidate to receive 2).

We had a slow start at the hospital outreach location, but when we finally arrived at 9am, we were confronted with a very large, very intimidating line of people waiting to be seen by us. Seriously, well over 100 people waiting in line before we had even stepped foot off the bus! Unfortunarely, we weren’t able to see every one of these patients before packing up for the day, but we managed to see 105 of them before sending any new people home to return tomorrow. Even turning people away, we worked our tails off until sunset before finally calling it a day.

By the way, have any of us mentioned our utter amazement by the sunsets here? I swear we each take at least 10 sunset photos a week (only to find each time that the pictures hardly do it any justice).

Kate stayed at the ABC clinic with Dr. Helms Tillery where she worked with some dynamic patients, providing articulation therapy and creating a picture exchange communication board as a means of communication. She also worked with a child with autism, a child with Auditory neuropathy, and finally, a child with cerebral palsy.

Can you tell we’ve had a busy day? Tomorrow we return to the same hospital as today with a goal to see the remainder of people that were turned away today plus some. Wish us luck and check in tomorrow!

Calla and the HFH team

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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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Week 3: ABC and Lilongwe Outreach

The start of week 3 and halfway through our trip already! On Sunday we had our last moments with Cape Macclear before heading to Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi and home of African Bible College, our next group of people to work with.

We stopped by for lunch at a pottery shop called Dedza Pottery. It was on near the top of a mountain that had windy roads in order to get there. It was peace and quiet with a view of bright green scenery.

Our first stop after lunch was African Bible College, also known as ABC. We met two audiologists from Australia and one Malawian audiologist named Fletcher. The clinic at ABC had a different feel than at QECH, but both are amazing to have in Malawi. And we got to stay at our third Annie’s Lodge.

Today was our first time doing outreach with a different team. We mostly did the outreach ourselves with the help of the translators (we had about 7 of them). Total count has not been done yet, so still waiting on the numbers. But we are going back to the same village, this time with a clinical official to prescribe medication to those who need them. As a team, we have improved with the teamwork where we would jump in to a station that needs help immediately. Especially now where we cannot rely Malawians who have the knowledge of audiology, we rely on making sure we have it right for the translators to say the correct information. Our team is smaller, but as efficient still.

Dr. Helms-Tillery and a SLP student observed two different sites in the morning and got to teach about Speech-Language Pathology for Audiologists to 4 ABC students who are going through the program to become audiologists.

Until next time,

Angie and the Hearing for Humanity team

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Weekend Adventures in Cape Maclear

IMG_5516Cheers to the weekend! Buckle up, because it’s been an eventful few days!!

Friday began with a quick trip to the bank and shoprite for some snacks for the road before we headed off to Cape MAclear. The bus ride was a bit comical as we looked somewhat like a clown car packed with Azungus and action packers. As usual, our fearless Laz got us through the 4 hour drive with “No Problems!” (With a little help from CT’s fabulous playlist)

Our arrival to Annie’s Lodge was announced by shrieks of delight as we saw our lavish rooms. King sized beds and walk in showers, oh my! Our host, Peter, greeted us with an offer for a sunset cruise and fresh fish for dinner.

We loaded the whole crew onto the “Shanana Malawi” and headed off into the beautiful clear blue water. Our captain, Isaac, showed off some tricks with his pet eagle, Livingston, and then stopped to show us a fishing boat that was filled to the brim with what we would soon be eating for dinner. We paused just before the sunset to take a dip- some were even brave enough to take the plunge in their clothes! Calla, who is quite timid around open water, and Ashlea who is a bit fearful of heights were both in the “When in Africa” spirit and made the jump from the high dive as the whole boat cheered them on. The evening concluded with a sunset that can’t even be described in words and a dinner of the Chambo fish we had seen earlier that was absolutely superb.

Saturday’s adventures started bright and early so that we could enjoy every second of our little slice of paradise. Some headed out to shop and find the famous tailor, Billy, that can make anything out of your choice of his brilliant chitenje fabrics. As with any typical beach town, there were curios, carvings and souvenirs at every corner. A lot of us checked items off of our lists of desired items to bring home.

We came back to a delicious breakfast spread out on the lawn overlooking the beach that included bacon! This was honestly a highlight for many of us. As always the staff was so kind and so helpful. One thing I have noticed in our time here is how genuinely nice the people have been. There is no sense of urgency, no rush, and no reason to stress. This attitude is something I truly intend to bring back home with me.

Once breakfast was concluded we all hopped into our “swimming costumes” as Paulina called them and got on the boat with captain Isaac. Little did we know that the day was going to be filled with some incredible adventures.

Our first stop was a secluded beach on the island across the lake for some amazing snorkeling. After somewhat gracefully sliding off the rocks into the water, Isaac began to feed the fish bread crumbs. Instantly the fish schooled around us in a frenzy that provided us with some of the most spectacular snorkeling I’ve ever experienced. Lake Malawi is home to over 100 species of freshwater fish, and I swear we saw nearly all of them!

The rest of the cruise included more snorkeling and a bit of a history lesson. We stopped at an 800 year old Baobab tree which was home to Malawi’s first primary school. It’s large branches and towering height were a common land mark/meeting spot for Malawians for many years. It took 12 of us with arms stretched wide to surround the beautiful piece of history. We also passed a historic mango tree which was a place for those avoiding the slave trade to take cover on their escape route. Isaac’s incredible knowledge of the area clearly showed how proud he is of his country and his village. It was such a beautiful and humbling experience for all of us as we took turns laying a hand on this massive piece of history.

The rest of the day and evening were filled with relaxation on the hammocks, by the pool and under the shade of the trees. Several of us swam out to a floating dock and enjoyed the afternoon sun. Dinner was delicious as usual and was laid out on the lawn overlooking the water.

After dinner, several of us decided to venture down the beach a ways. We stumbled upon an drum performance that boasted banana pancakes and a bonfire on the beach! After sitting around the fire for a bit, things got interesting. Four drums were pulled out and passed around as each of us tried our hand at drumming to the beat. The locals sang songs in Chichewa and in English as we tried to keep our hands moving with the beat- not an easy task we quickly learned!

As we walked back, the view of the stars could only be described as otherworldly. We all had an “oh my gosh, we’re in Africa” moment as we thought about how lucky we are to have this incredible experience. After only two weeks we have already seen nearly 800 patients and done outreach in 6 locations. We’ve met some incredible people along the way and learned a ton in such a short span. We are all so excited to see what week 3 in Lilongwe has to offer.

With Love,
Taylor Lorengo

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Today was our second day at Compassionate Care Center in Zomba and we saw a total of 107 patients! We were able to see all the patients that showed up today and we started the day off busy in every station! Over the course of these two days we saw a lot of deaf patients in the community and more patients that needed medical attention because it was our first outreach at this location. We left this location to the same beat we entered with, literally because we have limited music options. Which was about 20 songs for the 3 hour commute there and back.

Back in clinic today, Rochelle and Dr. McBride saw several patients for hearing aid fittings and diagnostic testing. Rochelle was able to help with some speech sessions as well today. CT and Kate saw two patients, one for aural rehabilitation and another for a language assessment. CT was able to conduct some of her research on a nurse midwife who worked at the hospital. Then in their free time they teamed up to pack all our action packers up for our journey up north tomorrow, it’s like a game of Tetris when packing.

We loaded all our action packers onto the bus and boy was Laz in for a surprise when he saw our packing job, don’t worry we left space for him to still see. But, needless to say we went from a comfortable bus ride to feeling like we are in a mini bus. It’s just yet another bonding moment for us. Tomorrow we head up to Cape Maclear for the weekend and then onwards to Lilongwe.

To all our friends and colleagues at QECH we’ll see you in two weeks!

Check back in to see how our adventure at the lake goes!

Sara and the HFH Team

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Zomba Compassionate Church

It was day 1 of outreach at the Zomba Compassionate Church! The morning commute of beautiful fields, waving children, and distinct peaks in the dewy horizon is becoming all too familiar, but we aren’t complaining! We ended up just past the Zomba Army Barracks from last week, in a Tiffany Blue church sitting at the base of a mountain, surrounded by an open lawn and plots of corn sprouts. We were relieved when we heard we had electricity for testing and a flushing toilet (a luxury from the long drops Paige mentioned yesterday). After setting up, we started taking patients from 9:30am-12:00pm but didn’t finish until 4:00pm, with a man who is now a hearing aid user! After 151 patients seen, we made sure there weren’t any lingering bees in our version of the Mystery Machine and made our way back home, singing along to Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys, and Destiny’s Child. As per usual, the sunset was breathtaking and words/pictures could not describe the color of the sky it created.

On the QECH clinic side of things, Sara was teamed up with Dr. Adamovich and had to doing some sedated testing, which entailed holding an IV in place…yikes. The day went very smoothly and they were able to organize our supplies into two separate piles for when our team packs up and split locations next week. As for speech, Taylor and Kayla worked with Howard again today, starting at a preschool and ending with a home visit, which had emotions running high. They definitely pushed themselves today to give the best care possible, and learned a lot from Howard and the children along the way.

We’ve all seen growth within ourselves and in eachother, and the amazing feeling of confidence as a team is getting us pumped for the remaining 9 days of outreach! Accepting Facebook friend requests from the Malawian members of our team tugs at our heartstrings as we continue to build our relationship with this country and the people who call it home.

All in all, in the famous words of Ice Cube, “today was a good day.”

Cheers,
Rochelle and the HFH team

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Outreach in Chigwaja

Today the team ventured to the village of Chigwaja in rural Blantyre. We made our way through the narrow, rocky roads where we set up in a local church. We started seeing patients around 9:30am and by 1:30pm we were finishing up, having seen 126 patients! Quite honestly it was a wonderful day that ran smoothly and considering we didn’t even have power at this location. We were able to treat several patients with antibiotics as needed. We removed a lot of earwax that resulted in immediate excitement and exclamations of “I can hear again!” in Chichewa. In the end, six hearing aids were fitted and provided for various individuals. Between all the audiology efforts, we enjoyed small breaks interacting with the kids and watching the locals munching on sugar cane like pros. (The team has quickly discovered how difficult it is to peel and eat the sweet sticks of sugar.) Some of us even got to experience a long drop, which is your classic hole-in-the-ground toilet. Apart from the outreach team, two speech pathology students and our supervisor went to AbleKids today. They collaborated with their speech language pathologist, Howard in providing speech and language services to children. They too had a successful day exchanging ideas and plans with Howard to assist those with communication needs in the community. Anyways, it’s safe to say it was another successful day in Blantyre. I feel like I can speak for the ASU team as well on how grateful we are to be working with the QECH Audiology team. Their guidance and experience in collaboration with our ASU team is allowing us to reach a wide range of communities while promoting sustainable efforts where quality of care can be maintained here in Malawi.

Check in tomorrow for another update!

Cheers,

Paige and HFH Team

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Blantyre Outreach

No Case of the Mondays Here!

It’s day 4 on outreach and we are definitely getting lots of practice troubleshooting and resolving problems quickly! Today the outreach was close to home in Blantyre. The team was able to help 90 patients in a little over 3 hours! It was a slow start to get all the generators working, but once they began everything ran smoothly. While discussing highlights of the day, many people mentioned a particular patient who was fitted with hearing aids. This patient had a rather severe hearing loss in both ears and was struggling to hear in many different contexts. A few audiology and speech students were in the room when the hearing aids were fitted and turned on. They described it as one of those magical moments when someone experiences a tangible reaction to an unexpected but welcomed change. I’m speaking for all of us, but I think these are some of our favorite moments and help us continue doing what we love even on the hard days! Other highlights from outreach included playing with the children after outreach was over. Many of the children were content exchanging different greetings such as high fives and fist bumps as well as English and Chichewa words all while laughing and running around.

Today, myself and a few other speech and audiology students were back at the QECH Audiology clinic working to test hearing, reprogram cochlear implants, fit hearing aids and provide aural rehabilitation services. All of the audiologists and personnel working in the clinic are completely invested in every single patient they see. They go above and beyond and take the extra time needed with every patient to ensure they get what they need that very day and because of this their clients succeed! Many of the patients seen today for aural rehabilitation services were seen last week as well. To see the improvement in each case from last week to now is astounding given the short amount of time! Many of these clients have cochlear implants and we worked to help them detect, identify, discriminate and comprehend sounds as well as speech occurring around them. With continued support for the clinic professionals at QECH, the patients hearing and speech and language will continue to improve! Tune in tomorrow to hear about our second day of outreach in Blantyre!

Kayla and the HFH Team

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