In March 2019 we started a new project in the only 3 deaf units in mainstream primary schools in Ndola, Zambia. We trained the special needs teachers that work within these units to advance their Zambian Sign Language skills.
As part of our new project in Ndola, Zambia, we set up weekly sign language after school clubs within the 3 deaf units in primary schools, to improve the interaction between deaf students and mainstream students. Please click here to read more about the course.
We are thrilled that Ann-Marie has decided to fundraise for Sound Seekers for her 2019 London Marathon Place!
Ann -Marie started running 30 years ago and now at 61 years old was able to achieve her long-term goal to get a place in the London Marathon which was granted through the Rugby & Northampton Athletics Club. Being deaf herself, she understands the importance of accessing hearing healthcare services which is why she decided to support Sound Seekers.
To celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3rd December 2018, we are thrilled to share our latest video showcasing our work in Malawi. Please take five minutes to watch our video below to find out how our partnership with Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre is making it possible for children and adults with hearing loss in the Southern Region of Malawi to access vital hearing care services and how our recent training of Itinerant Special Needs Teachers will help more children with hearing loss like Happy and Shakira to get the support they need in school.
Sound Seekers in Malawi: Watch the moment Samuyeli hears again and find out how Shakira and Happy are progressing at school
Without your donations, none of our work would be possible.
This Christmas, please donate and help us reach more children with hearing loss like Shakira, Happy and Samueli to improve their lives.
June 2018 brings a big change at Sound Seekers, as we begin an exciting new chapter with a new CEO, Kavita Prasad, at the helm.
After three successful years, Emma Judge has stood down as CEO and Kavita Prasad, previously our Head of Programmes, begins her new role. Kavita has been spearheading our programmes at Sound Seekers since she joined us in January 2017, in which time we have seen our programmes go from strength to strength.
Kavita has over ten years’ experience in programme management and development and extensive technical expertise on disability inclusion, having previously worked with disability-focused organisations, including Handicap International (now Humanity and Inclusion) and Leonard Cheshire Disability. Prior to joining Sound Seekers, Kavita was seconded by Handicap International to The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) to support the mainstreaming of disability in UNRWA programmes and services. She has a Masters’ degree in Public Health from the University of Leeds and a Bachelors’ degree in Physiotherapy and has lived and worked in South Asia and the Middle East.
We look forward to Kavita leading Sound Seekers into a new and exciting phase of growth and development.
On World Hearing Day 2018, March 3rd 2018, The World Health Organisation (WHO) draws attention towards the anticipated rise in the number of people with hearing loss across the world with the theme “Hear the future”. In particular, drawing attention to the:
expected rise in prevalence of hearing loss globally over the coming years
efforts that are required to stem the rise through appropriate preventive action
need to ensure that people with hearing loss have access to the required rehabilitation services and the communication tools and products they require.
WHO estimates in 2018, over 466 million people live with disabling hearing loss. It is predicted that by 2050 nearly one in ten people will have hearing loss. Two thirds of people with hearing loss live in developing countries where access to audiology services is usually limited or non-existent.
Sound Seekers delivers practical solutions to enable people with hearing loss in Africa to realise their rights and gain access to healthcare and education.
To celebrate World Hearing Day 2018 we want to share with you Shine’s heart-warming story to demonstrate the impact of our work and to ask for your help to continue our work.
Shine is three years old and had her hearing assessed for the first time last November at the new Children’s Hearing Clinic in Lusaka. Her mother brought her to the clinic due to her delayed speech but she did not realise this could be linked to hearing loss. She was first assessed by Sound Seekers Volunteer Audiologist, Bhavisha Parmar.
Bhavisha Parmar is a Paediatric Audiologist from the UK, who volunteered for Sound Seekers for a year in 2017, and is now a Special Advisor for Sound Seekers. Bhavisha set up the first Children’s Hearing Clinic in University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka last year. This is the first paediatric clinic of its kind in Zambia, which is fully equipped to assess the hearing of children at risk of hearing loss and provide the necessary hearing aid fittings, follow up and rehabilitation. Since Bhavisha left, the clinic is being led by local staff at University Teaching Hospital, and the newly training local Audiology Technician sponsored by Sound Seekers.
When Shine was first assessed, there were no risk factors for hearing loss in her medical history so Bhavisha proceeded to perform play audiometry (a technique used to test hearing of young children to respond to sounds as part of a game). The results confirmed Shine has severe Sensorineural hearing loss in both ears, normal tympanograms and absent otoacoustic emissions.
Impressions of her ears were taken to make custom ear moulds and she was fitted with brand new hearing aids (donated to Sound Seekers from Hear the World Foundation). Shine’s reaction to the sounds around her surprised Shine’s mother and Bhavisha, as Shine immediately tried vocalising to hear her own voice. Bhavisha told us:
“Shine’s name can be used to describe her smile as she was definitely a shining light in our clinic that day”
You can watch the moment Shine has her hearing aids fitted here:
Bhavisha taught Shine’s how to use the hearing aids and she was booked in for a follow up appointment to review Shine’s progress.
When Shine returned for her follow-up appointment at the Children’s Hearing Clinic, Shine’s mother was extremely pleased with her progress and has become very confident with inserting the hearing aids and switching them on and off.
Thanks to the Sound Seekers and Hear the World Foundation’s donated hearing aids, Shine has hearing aids that even light up to alert her mother that the battery is running low, which she is really pleased about. Shine’s mother explained to Bhavisha that Shine points at her hearing aids as soon as she wakes up and gestures that they need to be put in her ears. Data logging on the hearing aid software at her follow up appointment showed that Shine had been wearing the hearing aids for 11 hours per day! Bhavisha was thrilled about this:
“I high fived her mother as soon as I saw that she had been wearing her hearing aids for 11 hours every day since her fitting!”
When Bhavisha was examining the hearing aids and connecting them to my computer she felt a nudge from little Shine, making it very clear she just wanted them back in her ears! Aided testing showed she was getting great benefit from the hearing aids and she was very vocal in the clinic and even left saying “bye bye”.
We look forward to sharing news of Shine’s progress in the future.
“My time volunteering in Zambia for Sound Seekers has been amazing and being able to help bring out the shine in Shine has been one of the best moments”.
On the 27th October 2017, thanks to the hard work and dedication of our Volunteer Audiologist, Bhavisha Parmar, the Children’s Hearing Clinic in University Teaching Hospital (UTH) was officially opened by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Dr Jabbin Mulwanda.
This is the first paediatric clinic of its kind in Zambia, which is fully equipped to assess the hearing of children at risk of hearing loss and provide the necessary hearing aid fittings, follow up and rehabilitation.
It was a day to remember for our Volunteer Audiologist Bhavisha as all her hard work and preparation over the past few months paid off, at the successful official launch:
“I didn’t quite realise what I was getting myself into when I proposed the idea of having a big opening ceremony of the Children’s Hearing Clinic and it took on a whole different life when the Ministry of Health suggested I link it with the launch of the first ever Ear, Nose and Throat Strategic Health Plan.”
The launch was well attended with over 120 people including: was officially opened by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Dr Jabbin Muluwanda.
The launch was a huge success, with 120 people attending including Sound Seekers CEO Emma Judge, the British High Commissioner to Zambia, CEO of Beit Cure Hospital, CBM Country Director, Senior Medical Superintendent of UTH, President of Zambia National Association of the Deaf, and representatives from the Ministry of Education.
During the launch, Bhavisha took to the podium and spoke of ‘The Need, The Now and Next for Audiology services in Zambia. You can watch Bhavisha’s Speech here:
She was followed by Sound Seekers CEO, Emma Judge, who spoke about this great achievement
A speech was also conducted by the Permanent Secretary of Health services on how the Ministry of Health were committed to supporting the growth of audiology services in Zambia and the importance of the ENT strategic plan. He spoke on behalf of the Minister of Health, whose speech included this paragraph which was followed by great applause:
“It has come at a great time when we are restructuring the health sector, and I am glad to inform this meeting…that positions for ENT have been established in all our provisional centres. But most importantly, for this gathering, is that audiology positions have also been included in the current structure”
After the speeches, Bhavisha along with others in attendance were then led to the new Children’s Hearing clinic after Dr Muluwanda cut the ribbon that was placed around a bound copy of the ENT plan to officially mark its launch.
You can watch the cutting of the ribbon of the Children’s Hearing Clinic here:
Bhavisha described this memorable moment and her excitement for the future of Zambian audiology and ENT services.
“I was relieved and excited for the future of Zambian audiology and ENT services. The opening ceremony of a clinic is very much just the beginning and commitment is needed at a government level to ensure the continual growth of services with adequate follow up and support for children with hearing loss as well as their families.”
We would like to thank everyone who supported and attended the launch, making it possible for children with hearing loss in Lusaka to gain access to much needed audiology services. Thank you.
You can read Bhavisha’s full blog post of the lead up to the Launch on her fantastic journey of her year in Zambia here.
It is always fantastic to hear updates of how communities have benefited from the projects in which we have run over the years. We would like to share you the story of a six year old child from Mbayani, Malawi, Frank Geofrey.
Frank was seen at the QECH Audiology on 12th September 2017. His results revealed a moderate to severe sensorineural hearing loss bilaterally. Frank was then recommended to get hearing aids and after having fitting on a pair, Frank managed to grasp various sounds as he was being tested. He was clapping away and laughing as his mother looked on joyfully.
Frank then came in later today (18/10/17) for a hearing aid review. He looked enthusiastic and his mother had just informed us on how she has seen a great change in Frank as of recently. She went onto tell us on how Frank was able to explain to her what he had learnt at school every day.
Having seen how her son has benefited from our services, she has stated that she would recommend QECH Audiology Clinic to anyone who would reap the same benefits.
“Your Services has greatly helped my son. My son is benefiting a lot from school than before. I am a happy mother today and I know my son will get educated and be someone tomorrow”
Update on our project in Zambia where we are screening primary school children for hearing loss in Ndola District with our HARK vehicle (provides mobile audiology services to remote and rural areas).
Thanks to the support of the People of the Island of Jersey, we began a project this year improving infrastructure at two mainstream schools with deaf units in Zambia and supporting targeted outreach screening to mainstream primary schools within the Ndola District to enable the early identification and treatment of hearing loss amongst children in Grade 1 at mainstream schools.
The project is underway and we are pleased to share photos from the recent outreach visits to Primary Schools in Ndola, including at Chilengwa, Chitetekelo and Kaloko Primary Schools and Daycare Special School for children with learning disabilities.
Using our HARK Vehicle, the Audiology team from Ndola Central Hospital are providing weekly outreach visits to screen children in mainstream schools within Ndola District for hearing loss in Grade 1 (also accompanied by Optometrists to screen for vision-related problems). Up to 187 children have been screened for hearing loss at each school.
We are pleased to share a new case study from Malawi. 67 year old Sarah Mhango was first seen at the audiology clinic at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) in March 2017. Sarah had perforations in both ear drums and had problems hearing since she was a child, which has worsened over time. After antibiotic treatment, the infection was cleared. Sarah was diagnosed with moderate to profound mixed hearing loss in her right ear and severe to profound mixed hearing loss in her left ear. Sarah was fitted with refurbished hearing aids from our Hearing Aid Refurbishment Project in July 2017 by Chikondi, one of the first Malawian Audiologists sponsored by Sound Seekers.
Since receiving her hearing aids, Sarah’s life has greatly improved.
“I am so excited to be able to hear at church and especially at weddings. I can sit anywhere in church and still hear the sermon. I love to tell my friends about what I have heard each Sunday at church. I have been telling everyone at church that if they are having a hearing problem or any problem with their ears that they need to go to QECH’s audiology clinic.
“Go to Queens when you feel there is a problem with your ears even when they have a hearing loss. Don’t neglect it and leave the problem for a longer time.”
She even mentioned that she was getting her blood pressure checked at the hospital and she was chatting with a woman next to her whose son was having a problem with ear infections. She told her that she needed to bring her son to the ENT or Audiology Clinics for assistance.
Word of mouth is one of the most powerful methods of spreading information in Malawi. This patient was so pleased with the service she received she is taking every opportunity to share the information so that others that need the services will seek it out.
Jenny Buckley is our new Volunteer Teacher of the Deaf in Malawi. Jenny will be in based in Blantyre until June 2018 as the technical lead for the education component of the Comprehensive Audiology Services in Blantyre, where she will train Itinerant Special Needs teachers on the inclusion of children with hearing loss in mainstream schools and basic awareness on Primary Ear and Hearing Care.
“This is a time of first’s for me, my first trip to Africa, my first long haul flight by myself, my first encounter with catching a connecting flight and my first volunteer placement to mention but a view. I am grateful for the opportunity and will continue to go with the flow and enjoy each moment.”