Julia’s First Month in Malawi

Julia’s First Month in Malawi

“Since my arrival at the audiology clinic at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi at the end of May 2016, I have spent my first month getting acquainted with the clinic and staff, going on outreach to community centers outside of Blantyre, and immersing myself in the world of newborn hearing screening. I partnered with an engineer who has been staying in the same lodge as me to come up with a way to reuse the disposable ear phones that are made for our newborn hearing screen equipment. Together we designed a reusable device to hold the ear phones on the newborns’ heads. The engineer drew up designs to give to the wood carvers in town, and we had a local tailor sew some straps out of chitenje fabric, which can easily be washed. I cut ovals out of foam to give some cushion and flexibility between the wood and the baby’s head to account for head shape differences.

Our office manager brought her 6-month-old baby, Theodore, into the clinic to trial our earphone contraption. He was quite the good sport about the whole thing and everything fit perfectly. We are now ready to produce another few sets in preparation for our newborn hearing screen program. 

Over the next week or so, I will continue researching the best way to go about setting up a newborn hearing screen program in Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital. The next step is to write and submit a research proposal so we can publish the data we gather on our newborn hearing screen program. The hope is that publishing an article on this process will contribute to the future of the newborn hearing screen program at QECH, as well as adding to the body of research about newborn hearing screen programs in Sub-Saharan Africa and other developing areas of the world.”

Julia Swayne, B.A.

Student Doctor of Audiology

A.T. Still University

Earmould Training in Malawi

Earmould Training in Malawi

We are very pleased that our volunteer, Dr Courtney Caron, has organised an Earmould Training for our new audiology clinic in Blantyre, Malawi. She said that: “Mark Chipeta (middle) has spent the week training Louis Jailos (left, one of the audiology officers) and Samson Mponda (right, new official Queens earmould maker) on how to make earmoulds. We are forever grateful to ABC Hearing Clinic and Training Centre for facilitating Mark to come here for this important training!”

First comprehensive audiology clinic in Southern Malawi is officially opened by Minister of Health, Dr Peter Kumpalume

First comprehensive audiology clinic in Southern Malawi is officially opened by Minister of Health, Dr Peter Kumpalume

Press Release 5th May 2016 – Sound Seekers, a UK charity dedicated to helping deaf people in some of the poorest communities in Africa, announces the official opening of a comprehensive purpose-built and state of the art audiology clinic at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Blantyre, the first such clinic in Southern Malawi.

Sound Seekers has worked closely with the Government of Malawi and other partners to design, build, equip and staff the new clinic with funding from UK Aid Match Fund Scheme and the people of island of Jersey. The clinic will provide hearing aids that will enable patients to hear and therefore be better able to participate in family life, with improved access to education and the workplace. It is anticipated that the clinic will be able to treat approximately 35,000 people over the next ten years.

The Minister of Health in Malawi, Dr Peter Kumpalume, comments on the impact this new facility will have for local people suffering the effects of hearing loss: “I am delighted to preside over the opening of the magnificent Audiology Clinic at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital which has been supported by Sound Seekers and provides the first comprehensive audiology service in Southern Malawi incorporating ear and hearing health, outreach clinics, training Malawians to become the country’s first audiologists, and training teachers’ to ensure inclusion of deaf children in education.  With all of these activities working in harmony with each other, we will have created a holistic programme to support the deaf and we should be very proud about.”

The opening of the new clinic marks a major milestone in Sound Seekers’ four year project in Malawi that began with the arrival of American volunteer audiologist, Dr Courtney Caron in 2014. She has launched and developed the clinical audiology service at the hospital, working closely with Dr Andrew Gonani, Director of Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital and Dr Wakisa Mulwafu, Head of Ear Nose and Throat Department and she has overseen the building of the new clinic, which began in March 2015. The clinic is fitted with a comprehensive range of equipment for measuring levels of hearing loss of patients of any age including two sound-proofed booths, audiometers, tympanometers, otoacoustic emission screeners, hearing aid programming and verification equipment as well as auditory objective measurement equipment for testing patients that may be unable to respond themselves such as newborn babies or someone that has suffered from a brain injury.

A building and equipment alone cannot provide a service to deaf people without skilled and trained medical staff to run the clinic. Emma Judge, CEO of Sound Seekers, explains: “Sound Seekers’ core principle is to support truly sustainable projects where local people are enabled to deliver medical services in their own country. To that end we are very pleased to be sponsoring four Malawian audiology officers who are currently studying for an MSc in Audiology at the University of Manchester in England. When they return to Blantyre in September this year they will be the first fully qualified audiologists in the country and they will ensure that this clinic continues to thrive and serve the people of the local community well into the future.”

Deafness is a very isolating disability that can have a devastating impact on education and the potential for employment and economic independence. The Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital’s Dance and Drama group are putting on a special performance during the opening bringing to life the effects of hearing loss and demonstrating how audiology can make a real difference to those affected by this disability.

Many people affected by hearing loss in Southern Malawi live a very long way from the clinic in Blantyre but Sound Seekers endeavours to ensure access to specialist audiology services even for those in remote communities. The charity has recently secured a new and improved HARK (Hearing Assessment and Research Vehicle) for the audiology clinic, funded by the people of the island of Jersey through JOAC (Jersey Overseas Aid Commission). This specialist 4×4 vehicle has an audio trailer fully equipped with soundproof booths. Using this vehicle, specialist teams can reach remote communities preventing hearing loss wherever possible by treating infections and illnesses and helping those already deafened with the fitting of hearing aids.

Dr Courtney Caron (drcourtney@sound-seekers.org.uk)

http://www.bespoke.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5111

Renee’s three months volunteering experience in Malawi

Renee’s three months volunteering experience in Malawi

2016 got off to a great start. I was privileged with the opportunity to volunteer with Sound Seekers in Malawi for three months. The team at Sound Seekers, in the UK and in Malawi, was fantastic in preparing me for the trip and providing support throughout.

My time in Malawi was my first time in an African Country. I have previously worked in remote areas of Australia with limited resources and high incidences of poor ear and hearing health. I knew Malawi was going to be quite different, but felt my previous experiences helped to prepare me for what lay ahead.

My role was to work with the Audiology Officers and provide training, particularly with Paediatric patients (electrophysiology, VRA, Play Audiometry).   The biggest challenge I faced was my ability to refer Deaf patients on for other services due to the lack of resources available. My skills of adaptability and flexibility were definitely enhanced in this role.

Renee working at the audiology clinic  Renee, Louis and Prisca

There were many highlights to the experience. Working with a wonderful, dedicated group of clinicians (Malawian and international), learning about Malawian culture and a few words in Chichewa, meeting people from all over the world, and having the opportunity to explore the country on weekends.

This experience has opened my eyes to the principals of Global Health and introduced me to a Country and Continent I knew little about, whilst making some amazing friends along the way. I would definitely recommend volunteering to anyone who is seeking a sense of adventure and both personal and professional growth.

I would like to thank Sound Seekers, Dr. Courtney Caron and the listeners at BBC Radio 4 for all their support.

Renee Garuccio, Australia

Renee getting ear impressions for Happy

A day in the life of an international audiologist volunteering in Malawi

A day in the life of an international audiologist volunteering in Malawi

Dr Courtney Caron, an Audiologist from the United States takes us through a day in her life as a Sound Seekers volunteer in Malawi.

There is no such thing as a typical day.  Every day is different.  The needs are different.  The patients are different.  What is needed from me is different.  I have to prioritise what is needed most on any particular day.  One thing is for sure though, a day in the life of an audiologist in Malawi is never boring.

Having dodged the chaos of Blantyre’s streets where carts loaded with the fruit of the season, bicycles loaded with charcoal or goats and ladies carrying 20 litres of water on their heads, weave in and out of the traffic.  I spend the first half an hour answering emails from Sound Seekers, audiology equipment manufacturers, potential volunteers, other NGOs and the Ministry of Health.

Patients start arriving around 8am for various appointments: hearing tests, vestibular/balance assessments, ear mould impressions, hearing aid fittings, etc.  There are usually one or two audiology officers taking patient histories and doing various tests but as the only audiologist in Blantyre, I try and review all patients’ tests and recommendations or assist with complex cases.  Patients vary as much as my daily activities.  I may see a 90 year old man with hearing loss due to old age, a three year child who has suffered from cerebral malaria, a 25 year old man with Down’s syndrome or a 40 year old woman who has received an antibiotic that is known to cause hearing loss.  Each patient is different and requires a different way to diagnosis and treat them.  It takes experience and knowledge as well as a little creativity to ensure all patients receive appropriate care.

There is one audiology officer in training and he requires some additional time from me to help with reviewing assignments, understanding intricate ideas or having additional hands-on training in order to help him succeed in his course.  I also have management activities to do in order to keep the Sound Seekers’ project and the audiology department running smoothly.  We are in the process of building a comprehensive audiology clinic so I have to do tasks such as identifying where the electrical outlets should be and sort through quotations to furnish the building.  My day ends around 5pm and I return home through the chaotic streets of Blantyre.

Sound Seekers project brings hope to Malawi

Sound Seekers project brings hope to Malawi

Sound Seekers, a national charity dedicated to helping deaf people in the world’s poorest communities, has recently returned from a week’s visit to Malawi, delivering vital aid to deaf communities. The visit also allowed the team to manage a number of ongoing projects and initiatives, and receive critical updates regarding their recent campaign with Specsavers Hearing Centres.

Sound Seekers’ current projects in Malawi are expected to provide hearing aids to around 2,000 adults and children, along with treating around 7,000 people for other causes of hearing loss. A further 3,500 people will be educated on ear care and hearing loss prevention, reflecting the charity’s commitment to providing sustainable aid and long-term solutions that will continue to benefit communities long after aid workers have returned to the UK. One of the biggest projects, however, is the construction of the country’s first comprehensive audiology service, based at Blantyre’s largest hospital. In addition to constructing the hearing unit, which is expected to serve over 10,000 people in three years, the charity is training African staff to identify and treat hearing loss so that deaf people can go to school and find work.

“We were amazed to see the developments since our last visit,” commented Lucy Carter, CEO, Sound Seekers. “With the help of some fantastic partner organisations and the Government here in Malawi, we are seeing real progress. Along with seeing the new audiology unit take shape, we were able to revisit children who received hearing aids and cochlear implants last year and watch them thriving. One of the children we met only months ago now has such good hearing that he is able to translate for his mother! It’s great to see the benefits of our services extending far beyond just those we are able to meet.”

The visit also provided an opportunity to get an update on the charity’s joint campaign with Specsavers Hearing Centres, initiated earlier this year. The campaign has so far seen thousands of old and unwanted hearing aids collected from Specsavers stores across the UK, before being cleaned, repurposed and redistributed to people in Africa with hearing loss.

“It is a very exciting time for Sound Seekers, as a number of our campaigns have come to fruition and are starting to make a real difference,” continued Carter. “Our recent partnership with Specsavers Hearcare has been hugely successful, and it is immensely rewarding to witness first-hand the benefits of the campaign. Our combined efforts are expected to change the lives of nearly 400,000 people in the community with hearing loss, and we are confident that we are well on the way to building a promising future for audiology in Malawi.”

Specsavers founder, Dame Mary Perkins, also commented: “Living in the UK, we are extremely lucky to have access to such robust hearing healthcare programmes. Overseas, charities like Sound Seekers are providing vital care to those who are not as fortunate. We are delighted to be supporting the great work that Sound Seekers provides in countries like Malawi.”

For more information on this press release email help@sound-seekers.org.uk

The making of a blockbuster, Hollywood are you ready?

The making of a blockbuster, Hollywood are you ready?

Lucy tells us about bringing Big Brother winner Sam Evans on board and a fantastic trip to Malawi

Ever since I joined Sound Seekers in 2012, I thought that the charity could benefit from an injection of glitterati. Hearing loss and deafness in sub-Saharan Africa is not the most fashionable of causes, after all. So when I discovered that the 2013 winner of UK Big Brother, Sam Evans, was not only a young deaf man who wore hearing aids, but also had a whiff of Harry Styles about him, I was hot on his trail. And so it was that in January 2014, the Sound Seekers team met Sam in London. We plied him with biscuits and hot drinks and named him our ‘person of the day’, which basically consisted of him wearing a plastic crown and us all posing for a photo (see below).

Photo #1So now that we ‘had’ Sam Evans, what were we going to do with him? Here was a young, popular public figure with hearing loss, who wanted to help us in some way. I know, I thought, let’s make a film! We pencilled ‘make film with Sam Evans in Sierra Leone’ in the diary for November.

As November drew closer, the idea of making a film in Sierra Leone was called into question firstly by the Ebola outbreak and also by the small fact of still not having anyone to actually make the film (other than me and my iPhone). We decided to save the Sierra Leone film for happier times, and to take Sam to Malawi instead. I pressed ahead with finding someone who could make an amazing film for hardly-any-money-at-all.

Step forward Georgie Weedon and David Alexander from Gingerwink Films (https://www.gingerwinkfilms.com/). They fitted the bill perfectly – not only were they professional filmmakers, but they had experience making films in Africa and they liked playing Bananagrams. Malawi, here we come!

Photo #2If you are a keen follower of Sound Seekers, you will have noticed that our activities in Malawi have ramped up a few gears over the past year. We now have an expatriate Audiologist, Dr Courtney Caron, working full time at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (‘Queen’s’) in Blantyre. The small audiology team, who have had at most one year’s formal training each, are deriving tremendous benefit from Courtney’s leadership of their department, as of course are the patients. Over the next four years, Sound Seekers will sponsor two Malawians to train in London as the country’s first ever Audiologists (see Lucy’s blog post “Malawian women who will lead their country’s audiology service”), and we will build and equip an audiology clinic at Queen’s. At the end of the project, Malawi will have its first comprehensive, government run audiology service, led by two qualified Malawian Audiologists. This is big news for us, and what we would like to be doing in every country if we had the capacity. No shortage of film fodder then!

A UK Big Brother winner in Malawi was big news. We were inundated with requests for interviews with Sam for newspaper and television pieces. I appeared alongside Sam on Malawi breakfast television, which was a much bigger deal for me than for him, obviously. But I kept my cool and think I managed to come across as not dissimilar to Susanna Reid. We also managed to meet up with some other Big Brother contestants, but this time from Big Brother Africa. Fatima Nkata was a Malawian contestant on Big Brother Africa in 2013 and she positively embraced Sam’s visit and Sound Seekers’ mission in Malawi. She even invited the great and good from Malawi’s media scene to come and meet Sam at an exclusive soiree held at our hotel. Thanks Fatima!

Photo #3
Sam Evans with Sam Banda,
a Malawian journalist who wrote a story about him in The Daily Times
But hang on, weren’t we supposed to be making a film? Ah yes, the film…

We worked Sam pretty hard, but in return believe that he had a very eye-opening, once in a lifetime experience. I think all of us wonder at some point or another how our lives would have turned out if we had been born somewhere very different. In Sam’s case, his experiences in Malawi gave him a more vivid illustration of this than many people are ever exposed to. And of course, selfishly, we are hoping that seven days of ‘realising how lucky I am’ means that Sam will be a powerful ambassador for Sound Seekers’ work in Malawi and beyond for a long time to come.

Photo #4The harsh reality is that if Sam had been born in Malawi, with his level of hearing loss, it’s possible that he never would have gone to school, which would of course have impacted his chances of earning a living and leading an independent life. Firstly, his parents might not have realised that he was deaf, they might have just thought he was stupid or disobedient. Secondly, even if they had realised he was deaf, they might not have known what educational opportunities exist in Malawi for deaf children, or indeed that it was possible to educate a deaf child at all. Thirdly, even if they did know about the small number of schools for deaf children, Sam would not have been guaranteed a place since most of the schools do not accept children over the age of 6, and demand for places far outstrips the number available.

It’s true that Sam could have gone to a mainstream school, however with severe hearing loss and no access to hearing aids or speech language therapy, it is unlikely that he would have survived long in classes of 60-70 pupils in classrooms with poor acoustics. If Sam had not managed to access any schooling at all, it is unlikely he would ever have learnt either to speak properly or to use sign language. It is not an uncommon fate for deaf people in sub-Saharan African to reach adulthood with no way of communicating with those around them, thus leading extremely isolated lives with no opportunity to develop their minds.

Over the course of the week, Sam met many deaf and hearing impaired Malawians, none of whom have had access to the kinds of services that have been available to him in Wales all of his life. Some of those he met have already benefited from Sound Seekers’ work in Malawi, such as Happy, Joyce and Richard. These encounters will feature in the film, which by the way is going to be called ‘Hear in Malawi’ (genius title).

Photo #5

Happy’s story  (left)  is one that we love to tell, and that’s not just because of his cool name. Happy is a little boy with hearing loss who struggled for several years to do well in his mainstream school. In fact he didn’t do well at all; he remained in the same class for three years. Earlier this year, however, Happy was finally fitted with hearing aids at Queen’s, by Courtney and her team. Sam learnt that when Happy returned to school wearing his hearing aids, some of his fellow pupils threw rocks at him or removed the hearing aids from his ears and ran home with them. Courtney and her Audiological Assistant, Mwanaisha, travelled to Happy’s school in Thyolo District and spoke to Happy’s teachers and classmates about how important it is for Happy to wear his hearing aids. Once his peers left him alone, Happy was finally able to concentrate in class and now that he could hear, actually learn something! He has finally moved up a class and on the day we met him, the expression on his face certainly lived up to his name. There are thousands more Happys across Malawi, with the roll-out of our project we hope to be able to help many more of them.

Photo #6
As a nine year old girl and a fifteen year old boy, Joyce and Richard (right)  may not appear to have much in common. Both of them, however, became profoundly deaf very suddenly a few years ago – Richard due to the medication used to treat malaria, and Joyce after she was ill with mumps. Too deaf to benefit from hearing aids, if Joyce and Richard had been in the UK, they would have been eligible for cochlear implant surgery as soon as possible after losing their hearing, in order to give them the best chance of maintaining their speech and their ability to function in a hearing world.
In Malawi, however, no surgeon is trained to do cochlear implant surgery, and even if there were, the cost of the operation and device would be far beyond the reach of Joyce & Richard’s families. So it was a serendipitous mix of being in the right place at the right time, chance meetings and a very generous donation that led to British cochlear implant surgeon, David Strachan, agreeing to implant both Joyce and Richard in October this year. Neither David nor MED-EL (the company which donated the devices) would have agreed to the initiative if they were not satisfied that Joyce and Richard would have access to the necessary rehabilitative support after their devices were switched on. And who was going to provide these services? You guessed it, the Sound Seekers team in Blantyre, alongside our close colleagues and partners at ABC Hearing Clinic, 150 miles away in Lilongwe (Joyce lives closer to Blantyre and Richard to Lilongwe).

Photo #7When Sam met Joyce and Richard at their homes, they were both awaiting the switch-on of their cochlear implants (which will happen by the end of the year), therefore they were not yet benefiting from them. It is going to be fascinating tracking their progress, via Courtney and her team, after the switch-on and as they re-join the hearing world. Just by spending a short time with them, we got a taste of how frustrating their lives must have been over the last few years. Unable to hear their own voices, let alone what other people are saying to them, both of them have almost completely stopped talking.  Because they lost their hearing so rapidly they are not good at lip reading, nor have they had any sign language lessons. While Richard can read and write Chichewa, Joyce lost her hearing at an age when she was only just beginning to gain confidence in reading and writing and therefore writing messages to her is of limited usefulness. In general, life seems to go on over their heads and it is no wonder that both of their mothers reported that they had behavioural problems. One year from now, how different we hope their lives will be.

‘Hear in Malawi’ will feature Sam’s encounters with Happy, Joyce and Richard, and much more besides. There will be laughter, there will be tears, and there will be a big ball of wax which Mwanaisha removed from Sam’s ear. I hope that I have piqued your interest in seeing the film, when it’s finished… Hollywood, are you ready?

  • Sam Evans is raising money for the Sound Seekers ‘Hear in Malawi’ appeal, which will go to establishing Malawi’s first comprehensive, government-led audiology service. We would really appreciate your support – please donate viahttps://www.justgiving.com/Sam-Evans13/ or text EVAN74 £2 / £5 / £10 to 70070. Every pound you give will be matched by the UK Government (via UK Aid), doubling the value of your donation and helping Sound Seekers to change the lives of twice as many deaf people.
  • If you are interested in screening ‘Hear in Malawi’ at your local community centre/school/deaf club, please email help@sound-seekers.org.uk
  • Gingerwink Films launched their education programme during this trip by leading a film workshop for Malawian university students in Lilongwe. You can read more about it here: https://tinyurl.com/kn3or7z
  • To see Sam and Emily’s interview on breakfast TV in Malawi, visit: https://tinyurl.com/lpruq6j

Malawian women who will lead their country’s audiology service

Lucy (former Chief Executive) focusses on some of Sound Seekers inspiring women.

Sound Seekers women are making the world better for people with hearing loss.  In HQ, the Chair and Vice-Chair are inspiring, successful professional women.  Our accountant is a woman.  Our CEO, programme manager and programme assistant are all women.  We’ve even managed to persuade our auditors to stop sending us letters that start “Dear Sirs”. And at the moment, we have two female audiologists giving up months of their lives to set up or improve services by providing shoulder-to-shoulder training to healthcare professionals in Tanzania, Zambia and Cameroon. Our collaborative working styles and mutual support have enabled us to transform Sound Seekers in the last two years.

But the real success story, that I want to shout about, is our African women in the field.  Shannon Kruyt, our consultant audiologist in South Africa, only works for us one day a week. And yet in that time, she’s pulled together a tele-audiology project between Cape Town and Zambia, and has performed the first remote hearing-aid fitting in sub-Saharan Africa. This brings hope to hundreds of people who are “difficult” cases; they will no longer have to travel vast distances or wait months for help from someone more experienced.  The audiology technician in Zambia, Olipa, who actually screamed with joy when she heard that Emily, our programme manager, was moving to Lusaka.  Rephah, the only audiology officer in her hospital in Cameroon, calmly running a whole audiology clinic on her own, never complaining of being lonely or things being too hard.  Yaka, in Gambia, desperate to improve her skills so that she can give even better care to children.  Monica in Sierra Leone, who isn’t actually African but might as well be, as she spends more time there than in the UK – utterly dedicated and running the only audiology service in the whole country.  For free.

 

Shannon doing tele audiology (1024x833)
                       (above)  Shannon in a live tele-audioogy session
And it’s Malawi where the women are starting to shine the most.  Go, ladies. You probably already know that we’ve launched one of our most exciting projects ever in this country. Working with the Queen Elizabeth Public Hospital there, we will deliver a comprehensive audiology service for Southern Malawi. For people living here at the moment with hearing loss, they would have to drive the equivalent of Portsmouth to Glasgow to try to get an audiology appointment.  We are going to build a clinic and provide all the equipment needed for an audiological service.   So far, so good.  But Africa is littered with crumbling buildings and broken, dusty, unused donated equipment.  I’ve seen it piled up in hot crowded rooms, taking up space, a gloomy monument to thoughtless giving – but no-one feels empowered to throw it away.  Why will we be different?

Well.

Because of three extraordinary women.

Courtney in scrubs 1 first cochlear implant in Malawi
Dr Courtney Caron, (in scrubs for the first cochlear implant in Malawi, right), an American audiologist working for us for only basic living expenses for four years. Although those basic living expenses do seem to include occasional mango daiquiris by the pool as well as mouse kebabs, so I might have to review them. Downwards. Anyway, she is there now, setting up the service pretty much from scratch, and building the capacity of the clinical officer team.

Mwanaisha Phiri and Alinane Mtonya, currently audiology technicians, who we are going to sponsor through a MSc in audiology in the UK. Courtney will then supervise their 18 month clinical practice when they return to Malawi. Making them not only Malawi’s first fully qualified Malawian audiologists, but the first female home-grown audiologists in Malawi – and in sub-Saharan Africa – who will lead an audiology service for their country.

Mwanaisha and Alinane are talented, driven and really, really care. No-one deserves this break more than they do.  And one of my happiest memories of Malawi ever is of Mwanaisha, (below) usually quite shy and reserved, suddenly busting out a storming poetry performance at the launch of the audiology project in Blantyre in June.  It was virtually a rap. It was a revelation.

SONY DSC
The first three years of this project should see Courtney, Mwanaisha, Alinane and the team treating ten thousand children and adults. That’s a lot of lives changed.  A lot of children being able to stay in school. A lot of adults being able to stay in work.   We hope that the Blantyre Belles are proud.

I just checked my last blog and found some promises to talk about:

1) the British Army brass and wind band playing a concert to launch the Malawi project

2) signing the MOU (woo hoo!)

3) failing to notice being chatted up at Chez Maky

4) Wakisa’s new baby

5) and being freezing yet again while everyone in the UK sweltered in the June heat wave

So here we go.

SONY DSC
The Army Band were fantastic!

British Army. These guys rocked.  There was a marching band through the hospital, with a Pied Piper trail of patients, visitors, children of patients, children of visitors…probably other relatives of all these groups too. Thank you, Colonel Barry.

Signing the MOU. I LOVE  a signing! It makes me feel important and validated.  We were particularly excited about this one, because it really was jointly negotiated, with compromises on both sides.  It didn’t feel like the donor just handing over pages of legalese and the other partner boredly stamping the document.

Failing to notice being chatted up. Oh dear oh dear. Picture the scene.

Me, sitting there quietly working (9pm. Note dedication).

Fairly attractive man from the United Nation: “Would you like this glass of wine?”

Me, utterly mystified: “oh, is it left over?”

Him: “No, I am buying you a drink”.

I must learn some social graces.

Lupa 1
Lovely little baby Lupa

Wakisa’s baby.  All I can say is aaaaaaah. Little Lupa is gorgeous.

Being freezing in Africa again. Do you remember how hot mid-June was? I was wearing jeans, knee-length socks, trainers, three jumpers and huddled over a fire pit with a slightly runny cold nose like a puppy. Just saying.

Also in my last blog, I explained that no mice were hurt in its making. I am a little worried that some feelings might have been hurt in the making of this one.   So, I should say that although Sound Seekers is driven by women, we have some great men.  Dr Roger Green, our technical adviser for the Malawi project,  who is meant to be peacefully retired but has virtually turned into an unpaid employee and audiology lecturer. Some great Board and Projects Committee members.  And poor Stuart, our wonderful operations manager,  who puts up with me ranting on and on about “centuries of oppression by men of women” and just carries on quietly being rather marvellous and making my work possible.

Thanks, chaps.

But mainly, today  –  thanks to the women.

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