Thuvaraka’s two weeks in Cameroon

Thuvaraka’s two weeks in Cameroon

I recently spent 2 weeks volunteering in Cameroon Mbingo Baptist Hospital with my colleague & friend. I spent these 2 weeks working in the ENT department supporting the audiology technicians and also providing a training workshop in line with the WHO guidelines. Soundseekers were amazing in supporting me through this experience. Mbingo hospital is beautiful and all the people there are extraordinary. I enjoyed my whole time there, especially interacting with the children from the deaf school.

Volunteer in Cameroon, Africa in audiology hospitalDuring my week Amina and I were helping the ENT Audiological technicians with the testing and providing amplification  to adults and children. It was wonderful to see how hearing aids were helping them. The smiles and words after they started hearing with hearing aids was reassuring. We also spent time looking through inventory and making sure that this clinic had the correct material  and equipment to keep running well.

During my second week I was part of a team facilitating a training workshop on primary ear and hearing care produced by the World Health Organisation to nurses and teachers of surrounding health centres and schools . This was an amazing week of training and one I would facilitate again. Not only were we able to share knowledge and practices about ear care, we were also able to make sessions very interactive and innovative . We got a clear idea about participants thoughts and about how change can be implemented and/or evoked in their communities.

Volunteer in Cameroon audiology hospitalOverall these 2 weeks were amazing and I would definitely go back. Soundseekers are an incredible organisation who are dedicated in helping and supporting people in Cameroon. I am so grateful that they sent me here and I would definitely recommend any health care professionals to go and to be a part of this wonderful charity.

Thuvaraka Chandrapavan, Cameroon 2016

Sound Seekers celebrates 21 years of life-changing hearing care

Sound Seekers celebrates 21 years of life-changing hearing care

PRESS RELEASE: Sound Seekers, a UK charity dedicated to helping deaf people in some of the world’s poorest communities, celebrates its 21st anniversary this month. Coinciding with ‘International Week of the Deaf 2015′, Sound Seekers is taking the opportunity to celebrate its birthday and to thank its supporters and patrons – or ‘hearing heroes’ – which include Specsavers, Prince Andrew (HRH Duke of York), Big Brother 2013 winner Sam Evans, and many more.

Extending this celebration, Sound Seekers is this week inviting anyone who lives and works within the deaf community to nominate their own #HearingHeroes, whether they be an organisation, audiologist, nurse, patron, supporter, friend, or parent. The campaign provides an opportunity to thank those people who make a huge difference to the lives of deaf people around the world.

With an estimated 100,000 people who have been helped by the organisation, Sound Seekers continues delivering practical solutions to children and adults with hearing loss in developing countries, helping them to realise their ambitions of achieving an education or finding employment. Although these are basic expectations in the UK and most Western communities, audiology issues are not only considered a disability in many communities across Africa, but are also associated with other stigmas such as witchcraft, leaving deaf people shunned by society with little or no prospect of leading a normal life.

Working in partnership with local organisations and institutions, Sound Seekers initiates sustainable and cost-effective projects which advance the understanding of deaf people’s needs and enable children and adults to avoid or help overcome the effects of deafness. They also improve access to health services, education and social support. One of Sound Seekers’ most recent projects in Malawi enabled over 7000 people with hearing loss to be treated, with over 2000 adults and children being fitted with hearing aids for the first time.

Sound Seekers’ focus on providing sustainable support has also led to their involvement in the training of audiologists in countries such as Zambia, where there is only one qualified audiologist for the entire population of 15 million people, and Malawi, a country of 16 million, where there are no audiologists at all. This September, Sound Seekers has given four Malawians the opportunity to study for an MSc in Audiology at Manchester University. If successful, the students will be the first qualified Audiologists in Malawi, with the knowledge and expertise to successfully treat patients on the ground.

Emma Judge, Sound Seekers CEO, comments: “We are extremely excited to kick off ‘International Week of the Deaf’ with a joint initiative with one of our #HearingHeroes supporters, Specsavers. Specsavers Hearing Centres all across the UK are holding an entire month of activities to support Sound Seekers by helping us to raise money and awareness, as well as collecting old and unwanted hearing aids. These hearing aids will then be cleaned and refurbished by us, before redistribution to hearing-impaired people across six countries in Africa – a fantastic initiative that could make a huge difference to so many people.”

“While we are incredibly proud of our achievement to date, we still have much work to do,” continued Judge. “Like any charity, Sound Seekers relies solely on donations and fundraising to support our activities. We are extremely grateful to all those who have supported us over the last 21 years, and to those who continue to do so.”
The #HearingHeroes Campaign

Get involved with the #HearingHeroes campaign by nominating your #HearingHeroes on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, to thank the organisations, audiologists, nurses, patrons, supporters, friends or parents who have made a difference to you. You can also let us know who you’re saying thanks to, or find out more information about Sound Seekers, by finding us at Facebook.com/soundseekersorg, Tweeting us @SoundSeekers, or searching for Sound_Seekers on Instagram.

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

Kerry’s marathon

Kerry’s marathon

Kerry Downes, an audiologist at St. George’s Hospital NHS Trust in London, ran the London marathon for Sound Seekers and raised over £2,000 in the process. We asked Kerry about all the training, fundraising, and of course the big day itself.

13902925013_d4b8922bf9_bHaving done a half marathon and a few 10 km runs over the years, I’d always wanted to do a full marathon – so when the opportunity came to run the London Marathon for Sound Seekers, I jumped at the chance. My trip to Sierra Leone in November was still fresh in my mind, so I knew just how important every penny raised would be. However the task of raising £2000 in 10 weeks was initially as daunting as the run itself. Working as an audiologist definitely helped as patients and colleagues were particularly interested in the work that Sound Seekers do. While most money came from donations, a cake stall at work and a raffle with prizes donated from local businesses together raised nearly £500. I also emailed the local papers around the area I’d grown up, and they kindly printed articles about my trip to Sierra Leone and fundraising efforts. I was overwhelmed by people’s generosity. Huge donations came in – from colleagues and patients to my tennis coach 20 years ago and even strangers!

Training had its ups and downs. Running after work in January in the cold and rain wasn’t ever going to be fun, and I suffered from the common runner’s injury ITBS syndrome fairly early on – meaning a few weeks off in my already tight 11 week training window. But my distances slowly increased and my knee eventually healed. I’d only managed 17 miles before the big day, I quite simply ran(!) out of time, so was quite nervous about not finishing.

The sun shone beautifully on the day and the supporters were even more amazing than I’d anticipated. My family came down from Yorkshire and many friends in London came along to support me along the route, I even spotted Emily from Sound Seekers at mile 15 thanks to her good set of lungs screaming my name! Miles 20-25 were seriously hard, but the miles crawled by and at last I was turning that corner by Big Ben and heading down the Mall to get my medal.

Whilst fundraising can be daunting, I’m so glad I did it for a cause close to my heart as it made the run all the more meaningful (and something to concentrate on in those moments of pain!). I reached and even exceeded my £2k goal, and will remember the day forever.

Thanks to our corporate partner Arco

Thanks to our corporate partner Arco

In early August Lucy and Stuart visited the Arco Ltd HQ in Hull and collected an amazing donation of £8,597.48!  This year Arco, the UK’s leading safety company, donated a portion of the profits from their hearing protection range to Sound Seekers and we are thrilled that they will continue to support us for at least another year.

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Volunteering in Ndola

Volunteering in Ndola

Earlier this year, Adonye Banigo volunteered for Sound Seekers in Ndola, Zambia. We asked him about his experience and what advice he would give to anyone planning to volunteer with Sound Seekers.

Q Why did you agree to volunteer for Sound Seekers in Zambia?
A Well, volunteering for Sound Seekers was sort of my idea. Sound Seekers provides a perfect combination of my chosen specialty as a doctor (Ear, Nose and Throat surgery) and my passion for improving the lives of children and adults in the developing world. I approached Sound Seekers in August 2011 and expressed my desire to volunteer, I also attended the AGM in December 2011 and saw some of the work being done. At the time there didn’t really seem to be any projects I could get involved in, until Emily Bell came along. And anyone who knows Emily knows how passionate she is about projects in the developing world. It was an interesting turn of events because I had got used to pestering Sound Seekers about getting onto a volunteer project; now I was having to explain to Emily that a year of volunteering was probably a bit too long for me! Next thing I knew I was jetting off to Lusaka. I was willing to go to any African country, really and Zambia just happened by chance, but I cannot emphasise how blessed and lucky I am to have visited such a beautiful country with amazing people.

Q How did it feel volunteering in an African country having lived in the U.K. for so long?
A It felt wonderful volunteering in an African country, it was easy to settle in and mix with the locals. I did voluntary work in Gambia and Senegal during medical school so I have had some experience of volunteering in Africa. I remember back then it struck me how different other West African countries were from my home country, Nigeria. Zambia was even more different, from the weather which distinctly lacked humidity to the tolerant calm people that always seemed willing to help. African countries are very unique with different healthcare needs, so I learnt the importance of targeting my volunteering experience to areas of most need.

Q What was the high point for you?
A The HARK! out-reach in Kanseshi Basic School for the deaf was an amazing experience. It was a busy two days where we saw many students and tested their hearing. What made it special was seeing how the students did not let their hearing and speech impairment affect their ability to interact. They were outgoing, confident and entertaining.
In a brief interlude during the day, we had a deaf musician perform and he got everyone on their feet showing off their dance moves. Emma Case photographed many of these fantastic moments.

Q What do you feel you gained from the experience?
A I learnt that even though I am still in training to become a qualified ENT surgeon, I have acquired knowledge and skills I can use to improve the lives of deaf people in the developing world. I gained more confidence and a feeling of self-worth, a contrast to life working in the NHS where one can feel insignificant and not appreciated at times. From all the staff I met in the different hospitals I visited in Zambia, I have gained a lot of friends who are like my family now and I know we will continue to keep in touch for many years to come.

Q How do you feel the work Sound Seekers does makes a difference in developing countries?
A Sound Seekers is doing significant work in developing countries and making a huge impact on many lives. The HARK! outreach service provides primary ear care to individuals in remote areas. The training courses funded by Sound Seekers are building local knowledge and expertise. The equipment we supply is aiding diagnosis and treatment of ear, nose and throat disorders. Now we are looking to set up local training courses in Zambia for ENT clinical officers, which will help boost the numbers of clinicians with ENT expertise in the country. I feel privileged to be a part of Sound Seekers and I hope more funding becomes available to help support our work.

Q What three pieces of advice do you have for other potential volunteers?
A Do it, do it, do it! Volunteering for Sound Seekers is an experience that will stay with you for life for all the right reasons. And because Sound Seekers is a relatively small organisation, it is personable and has a close-knit group of staff that will make sure you are looked after when you volunteer. If you don’t quite feel up to jetting off to an African country you know little about, there are lots of other ways you can volunteer by raising money locally through charity events, etc. Get in touch with the very nice Sound Seekers team for more info.

Q If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and why?
A I would eradicate poverty and the disparity between the rich and the poor because poverty is a common denominator in individuals in developing countries with poor health.

Q What are your future plans? Are there any more missions on the horizon?
A I have lots of plans for the future, but in relation to volunteering I have no further missions planned as yet but watch this space…