Volunteer Blog: Naomi
Naomi Elliott is our Volunteer Paediatric Audiologist based in Zambia for six months from February 2018. She will support our audiology services in Lusaka and Ndola. To find out more about the Sound Seekers team click here.
Naomi at Heathrow Airport on route to Zambia
The start of my Zambian adventure
“As I start my adventure in Zambia, here I go writing my first ever blog. I am currently waiting for my connecting flight from Nairobi to Lusaka and the view from the airport is probably one of the better airport sceneries as the sun has just come up so I am greeted with a beautiful pink sky. I have had a great send off from everyone back in London, been treated to a lovely pre-airport meal out along with some very thoughtful messages and gift from my friends and family.
I think the nervousness has slightly calmed now however that may be due to my lack of sleep on the plane! The excitement side is definitely still there and I am looking forward to meeting Dr Uta and her family who I will be staying with tonight and they have very kindly offered to pick me up from the airport. Next stop, Zambia!”
Naomi with the Zambian Minister of Health
Naomi outside the Children’s Hearing Clinic with members of the Lusaka Round Table Club
The photos to the right show the Children’s Hearing Clinic in University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, Zambia
The first month has flown by
“So a month has flown past already and it has definitely been an eventful and busy time. I am all settled in my new accommodation with two lovely housemates and a dog that resembles more of a large hamster than a dog. My housemates have also attempted to teach me how to cook Zambian vegetables such as sweet potatoes leaves, however the outcomes have been of mixed success so definitely need more practice there.
So moving to more audiology related things, on arriving at the hospital all the staff have all been very accommodating and friendly from the first day I started. I was definitely not expecting patients waiting already as soon as I walked in but it highlighted the need and importance of the Audiology Centre of Excellence. So far the clinic is running really well with an ongoing stream of patients of all ages and since starting I have seen 75 patients and fitted 10 patients with hearing aids. I have also been introduced so some amazing people involved with Zambian health care and had the honour of meeting the Minister of Health.
I have been overwhelmed with the amount of new names and faces that I have come across over the last month both within work and outside but everyone has been extremely friendly and willing to help out where possible. For example we have recently had a visit from the Lusaka Round Table club and their families who very kindly devoted an afternoon to doing up the gardens outside the clinic so it is looking pretty smart at the moment. Well overall one month in Lusaka and I am still loving Zambia and will have more updates soon.”
The Audiology Centre of Excellence is running smoothly
“So it seems I haven’t been great at keeping up a blog however that does not mean I am short of things to write about. The Audiology Centre of Excellence is running smoothly and we have two new nurses who are now successfully developing their skills within the department.
In April we installed new equipment in Beit Cure hospital which now allows us more options for testing hearing of children under the age three. This was a very exciting addition to the service there and now training of the staff has been done it seems to be working really well as part of the testing within the Ear, Nose and Throat department at the hospital.
In May we ran a stand with an Audiology screening service for National Health Week event and I was overwhelmed with the amount of people needing audiology services. The queue to our stand remained constant throughout the day for the whole week with a range of people of all ages waiting to see us. We managed to see a total of 428 people over the course of the week which left me happy but completely shattered. What I mainly took away from that week was the lack of many people’s knowledge about general ear care and lack of awareness of hearing services here which is something that we definitely need to work on, but all in all was a very successful week.
I have had some great outcomes from some of my hearing aid fittings including a lady who left the clinic singing and dancing she was so happy with the sound. Another was a mother of a young boy who I had fitted with hearing aids, ended up crying from happiness when she was explaining to me how much improvement she had noticed to his responses and how much the hearing aids have changed both his and the family’s life.
Outside of work I have made use of some greatly appreciated bank holiday weekends and been lucky enough to have some fantastic trips to neighboring countries such as Zimbabwe and Malawi. I have also explored Zambia itself and had some very entertaining game drives at South Luangwa National Park including seeing 10 sleeping lions within only a few meters of the entrance of the park. I have also headed down to the beautiful setting of Lower Zambezi and spent time on the river there camping and hippo spotting.
So far this blog has only covered a small part of how amazing my last few months have been but I think the fact that I have decided to extend my stay here for another year is a big indicator of how much I am loving my time here in Zambia”.