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.
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”.
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.
Our Volunteer Paediatric Audiologist in Zambia, Bhavisha Parmar, tells us about the first hearing aid fitting for 8 year old Emmanuel, at the newly established Children’s Hearing Clinic in Lusaka, Zambia.
“Since I arrived here in Zambia in January so much work has gone towards creating a clinic to assess the hearing of children at risk of hearing loss and providing the necessary hearing aid fittings, follow up and rehabilitation. Since the Children Hearing Clinic’s opening in June 2017, I have been inundated with patients, questions about hearing loss/ear health and I have now seen 40 patients for audiological assessments. As I sit here now, in what used to be a storage unit, I am overwhelmed at the response and the interest and I just hope it continues to grow as we raise awareness of the impact of hearing loss.
“Today marks the beginning of International Week of the Deaf. Today is extra special as I completed this clinic’s first hearing aid fitting. Emmanuel Mubiana is 8 years old and struggling significantly in grade two of primary school. His parents heard about this clinic and made an appointment as it was becoming increasingly difficult to communicate with their son. Emmanuel was very shy and reserved and getting bullied at school as a result. I assessed Emmanuel 2 weeks ago and found he had a bilateral moderate to severe sensorineural hearing loss, his parents assume this was from birth. Today he was fitted with bilateral digital hearing aids from the hearing aid refurbishment programme (HARP) and he was able to have a conversation with his father without the help of lip-reading for the first time.
“My work since January was meant for moments like today. Emmanuel enjoyed learning how to use his hearing aids and the family understood that this is the start of a new journey for them. They will be back to see me in two weeks’ time for a follow up appointment to check Emmanuel’s progress. It is wonderful to see a project come together and I am really enjoying the day to day clinical life here in University Teaching Hospital’s first audiology department”
Chisomo is a 6 year old girl from Bangwe which is just outside of Blantyre. She has a twin sister named Chikondi. Both were born infected with Yellow Fever, and they spent several months in Kangaroo Care until they were healthy enough to go home.
Chisomo’s father Joseph reports that he believes Chisomo has hearing loss since she was born. She has normal development except her speech was delayed. Her father mentioned that Chisomo’s grandmother was born with hearing loss and never spoke.
Chisomo and Chikondi are in the same class at school where Chikondi is performing very well. While Chisomo is struggling, having behavioural issues and is quite shy – all of these issues could be related to her hearing loss.
She was diagnosed with a moderate to severe sensorineural hearing loss in both ears. Yesterday, on the 20th of February, she was fitted with two hearing aids that were donated by Hansaton Hungary and brought by a visiting ENT team from Budapest. Chisomo was very excited to get her hearing aids and was giggling at the new sound of her voice.
We are looking forward to hear about from Chisomo next month at her follow-up appointment.
Prescort is 19 years old and attends Chigumukire Primary School. Most children are between 11 and 12 years old in his class. He has been unable to advance in school because he continues to fail the final exam. He also has other disabilities including epilepsy and he has a moderate sensorineural hearing loss in both ears. He was fitted with hearing aids in June 2016 by Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital Audiology (QECH) and Arizona State University’s Hearing for Humanity at the Mwayi Trust Community Centre. He returned for a follow-up appointment in September 2016.
“Even though I lost one hearing aid, I was so excited to have even one hearing aid because now I can hear my friends and I can hear in school. I received a new hearing aid and earmould. I was advised about caring for the new hearing aid I received and will keep both my hearing aids safe. Now I’m getting older I won’t be able to complete school. However, I’m on the short-list to be admitted to the new vocational training programme at Mwayi Trust Community Centre where I can train to be a chef, a tailor, a carpenter or a housekeeper.”
Prescort was also given batteries at his follow-up appointment and advised to return to the Mwayi Trust Community Centre (MTCC) to replenish his supply of batteries as needed. MTCC was given a supply of batteries by QECH Audiology that were donated by Hear the World Foundation to be dispensed to all those wearing hearing aids in the community. The vocational programme should be opening in January 2017 and Prescort may be part of the very first class of graduates. We hope his new hearing aids will help him succeed in any profession he chooses!
To celebrate the last day of International Week of the Deaf 2016, we want to tell you about a Zambian patient benefiting from our pioneering work in teleaudiology!
On Thursday 8th September, 9 year old Jessy from Ndola, Zambia, benefited from Sound Seekers’ pioneering work in teleaudiology. Teleaudiology can essentially be defined as improving access to audiology services via internet based platforms, for example Skype, Team Viewer and whatsapp group chat. In Zambia, we use the teleaudiology platform at Ndola Central Hospital as a means of managing difficult patients and remote mentoring and training. Our Audiology Officer, Mr Kalwa Nsenga, had struggled to get a reliable audiology assessment when he had his first consultation with Jessy. Therefore he arranged to link up with our consultant Audiologist, Shannon Kruyt, based over 3000km away in Cape Town, South Africa.
By remote testing, Shannon was able to confirm that Jessy has a severe bilateral hearing loss and can hopefully benefit from hearing aids. She was accompanied by her aunt who needed to go and check with Jessy’s parents that they were happy for her to have hearing aids fitted. Using a combination of remote and face-to-face counselling, Mr Kalwa and Shannon advised Jessy’s aunt that her niece must be really struggling to hear in the classroom in her mainstream school and therefore dropping behind; Jessy’s aunty confirmed this.
If her parents agree, we plan to fit Jessy with hearing aids in October. Again Shannon will be able to help from a distance by programming and checking the hearing aids. Watch this space for our next update!
To celebrate day four of International Week of the Deaf, we thought we would share Godheart’s story!
Godheart Kengeh is a Theatre Nurse at Mbingo Baptist Hospital in Cameroon. Cameroonian Hearing Aid Technicians, Evelyn Tenkeh Mayohni and Rephah Chia, and visiting UK Audiologist on a voluntary assignment with Sound Seekers, Amina Abonde Adigun, fitted him with a hearing aid in January 2016. Godheart explained:
“I lost the hearing in my left ear following barotrauma and was treated by a traditional herbalist due to ear pain at the age of 12. I work in the theatre at Mbingo Baptist Hospital but often mishear my colleagues when they ask for surgical instruments. This has been extremely challenging for me, especially as I work with various groups of visiting doctors every month.
The first day I was in theatre with my hearing aid, I didn’t have to be asked for anything twice. Everyone had noticed and wondered what had changed. I happily shared that I’d been fitted with a hearing aid and can now not do without it! I have new hope now that I can hear well.”