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.
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.”
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”
John’s Story: Watch new video from our work in Zambia
On Day One of International Week of the Deaf (18th to 24th September 2017) , Sound Seekers are delighted to launch a new video, thanks to our Volunteer Tim Ringger from Sonova and The Hear the World Foundation who helped tell John’s story.
Watch the incredible moment when John, aged 88, gets his hearing back.
Meet John Kaonga from Zambia. He is 88 years old and has 12 children and too many grandchildren to count. John used to work on the farm but is now at home with his family and enjoys gardening at home. John had difficulty hearing for the past year, but didn’t seek any medical help. He relied on lip-reading to understand his family, and people often had to shout to speak to him. His 22 year old grandson heard about the Audiology Services at Ndola Central Hospital in Zambia, established by Sound Seekers. He brought his grandfather in to have his hearing checked.
John had his hearing tested by Anita Lungo, whose training as a Hearing Instrument Specialist was sponsored by Sound Seekers in 2016. This was the first time John had his hearing tested. He was diagnosed with severe sensorineural hearing loss in both ears. Within the same morning, Anita was able to take impressions, make ear moulds, and fit and test John with two new hearing aids, donated by Hear the World Foundation. John was amazed he could hear again and said:
“I am very happy and I can now talk to my grandchildren. Now I don’t feel jealous that other people are talking and I was unable to take part in the conversation.
“I can’t believe this!”
Before Sound Seekers’ support there were no audiology services in Ndola. There is a now a fully equipped audiology clinic and an ear mould lab within Ndola Central Hospital, and two trained Hearing Instrument Specialists to deliver much needed ear and hearing health services. The audiology services at Ndola Central Hospital also include a HARK vehicle (Hearing Assessment and Research Clinic) which provides mobile outreach services to remote and rural areas. This year the HARK is focusing on weekly outreach visits to primary schools in Ndola District to screen children for hearing loss. In addition, we have trained 96 community workers in Primary Ear and Hearing Care (PEHC) in Ndola where PEHC training and awareness has been delivered in local schools and health centres.
Sometimes it only take a little to make a huge impact.
Please help change the lives of more people like John.
We are delighted to share the news of our new project increasing access to education for children with hearing loss in Ndola, in the Copperbelt Region of Zambia.
Thanks to the support of the People of the Island of Jersey, we are 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.
This project will:
Expand the current deaf units by constructing three new classrooms in each school at Kansenshi Basic School and Chilengwa Primary School, including teaching and learning materials.
Using our HARK Vehicle, the Audiology team from Ndola Central Hospital will provide 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).
Construction began last week, see the first photos below:
Watch this space for updates on the project!
Update August 2017: The photos above show an outreach visit with our HARK vehicle at Chilengwa Primary School, where 175 children in Grade 1 had their hearing screened. Our volunteer Audiologist Bhavisha was also there.
Huge thanks to the team in Ndola for their hard work on this project and to the People of the Island of Jersey for enabling this project to happen.
Sound Seekers would like to thank Bankside Gallery for hosting a fantastic fundraising event for us on Thursday 11th May 2017, and we would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who attended the event and supported us.
We are delighted to tell you the event, silent auction and raffle raised an incredible £6,535.
Thank you to Bankside Gallery for donating 20% of sales on night The Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers’ Original Prints Exhibition, which featured and features new works by leading printmakers.
Thanks to Anita Klein, a past President of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, who gave a speech on the night, and everyone who donated our silent auction and raffle prizes, and a special thanks to Specsavers for sponsoring the event.
The money raised will help more children and adults with hearing loss in Africa to improve their lives.