Volunteer Blog: Matt in Zambia
Matt outside new office for the next 6 months, in Ndola, Lusaka!
The brand new ear mould lab
Matt with Sinoya at Arthur Davison’s Children Hospital
First blog post!
“I arrived in Lusaka, Zambia at the beginning of February by way of Tanzania. I was practicing audiology in Tanzania, but the placement lacked support and structure. I was delighted to come to Zambia as I know I’ll get both from a Sound Seekers project!
I was picked up from Lusaka airport by my new colleague, Naomi, quite bleary eyed from a long day’s travels! After a rest, Tuesday brought the beginning of a jam-packed induction week that included visits to all of Sound Seekers operations in Lusaka, as well as an introduction to our Hearing Aid Refurbishment Project (HARP). Most importantly, I met the staff at both University Teaching Hospital (UTH) and Beit Cure hospitals. Everybody was so lovely, welcoming and enthused about our work. All my doubts faded away and I was left feeling excited about the challenge in Ndola, where I will be working at Arthur Davison Children’s Hospital (ADH).
I noticed two things during my first week in Ndola. Firstly, Zambia has a different feel to other parts of Africa I’ve visited. Gone are the motorbikes and tuk-tuks, instead cars and trucks rule the roads here. There are large supermarkets and malls as well. Lastly, the rain. My word did it rain in our first week. I’d fall asleep to the sound of a torrential downpour and wake up to the exact same sound, with no let up!
The second thing I noticed was that there is a lot of work to be done. Fortunately, some very dedicated people have been here before me and set the ball rolling on some brand new clinic rooms, including a new sound-proof booth, set within a small school for children with additional needs. The children are taught elsewhere now, allowing us to occupy some rooms. These rooms still need diagnostic equipment at the moment (it’s on the way!), but I’ve been able to make progress in other areas, having good meetings with staff here about service awareness, outreach and our new audiology staff.
I’m working with two people already, Aggie and Sinoya. Aggie picked me up from the airport and has really helped me get my bearings. Aggie has long supported Sound Seekers projects and is the go-to person for finding items on a rather eclectic shopping list (think head torch, flashing toys and plaster of Paris!). Sinoya is a nurse at the hospital and Sound Seekers will be sending him for training to Kenya for a Diploma in Audiology in October. For now he is training with me (lucky man). In reality though, he has been teaching me. Who I need to see to ask this question, where I need to go to sort this problem, Sinoya has been invaluable for me to get used to life at ADH.
I hope to blog again soon and show how the clinic is developing here. Perhaps at that point we will also have seen our first patient. Exciting times ahead!”