We are so excited to announce our new Ambassador, Signkid!
Signkid is the UK’s first and only deaf music producer, writer and performer to have pioneered and developed a unique aesthetic by integrating and adapting British Sign language (BSL) signing into a visually based language suited specifically for live hip-hop music performance.
We are delighted that he is joining us to raise awareness of our work and to champion our cause.
To listen to some examples of his amazing work please click here or to read the full lyrics click here.
To read more about the Sound Seekers team please click here.
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.
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.
Wishing our brilliant volunteer Bhavisha all the best as she embarks on her year long trip to Zambia to support our work.
She graduated from University College London in 2012 with a BSc in Audiology and has since worked extensively with both the adult and paediatric population in both private and NHS sectors. Her most recent role was Senior Paediatric Audiologist with Hounslow and Richmond Community NHS trust where she lead hearing assessments of children and young people of all ages, fitted hearing aids and networked with a vast multidisciplinary team to ensure holistic and comprehensive care of children with hearing impairment as well as their families.
She has recently completed her MSc in Advanced Audiology and has previously volunteered in India providing health camps with Raleigh International, fundraised for various charities by running marathons and organised events to raise awareness of hearing impairment. Throughout her experiences she has been inspired to link her passion of audiology and development work together and this lead her to volunteer with Sound Seekers for one year in Zambia from January until December 2017.
Keep your eyes peeled for updates soon – she will be supporting many projects in Zambia including Targeted Paediatric Screening, Hearing Aid Refurbishment Project (HARP) and Diploma course!
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 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.”
“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.”