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July 19, 2012 / catherinebwrites



(Photos Martin Stone .   Not so many for our last day.   Too busy. )

It’s true

            Our last clinic was Ibex Hills,  a community clinic just outside Lusaka.   Sr. Rose is the formidable lady in charge.  The first problem was  no water… so wet-wipes at the ready.   Ibex Hills has an excellent mother and baby service .   There was  a large crowd of women and babies waiting for that as well and a large crowd of our patients but sr. Rose had it under control.

Rainy season

The second problem was that our nurses, Charity and Evelyn,  were  needed in Beit Cure Hospital.   A replacement nurse arrived  but  Alex had to sort out the  patients.   Then Pattison was missing, he too was wanted in Beit Cure.  So, no water, one nurse and no ear-mould technician.    Martin, our Hearing-aid Wizard, volunteered to do the moulds and as soon as Alex had all the patients organised, she’d help him to fit aids.   I had to do all the testing .

Sr. Rose had given us grand rooms in a separate building.   I plugged in the audiometer… no electricity.   I moved to another room… nada.  I moved to the main building.   The mothers and babies were lined up outside.   The women chatted and laughed, the babies wailed  and the wall of my room did not reach the ceiling.   Not ideal conditions hearing tests.

I asked Sr. Rose to explain that hearing tests need quiet.   She harangued all the patients from a height.   Everyone said “sorry, sorry” and even the babies went quiet.   But it didn’t last long.   New mothers and babies arrived, so I  hit on the plan.   I asked each of my patients to  explain to the mothers outside  how difficult it was to hear with the noise.   It worked… after a fashion.

Martin making moulds

Because of the mother and baby clinics we saw more  children in Ibex Hills than in anywhere else.   We  saw some very sick children.  Two of them were so feverish  with malaria that all they could do was lie their heads down on their mothers’ laps.   They were too ill to test.

Several of the children we saw had  been born HIV positive.  They were seriously undersized for their age.   Ii asked one mother how old her daughter was, I thought maybe  four or five.   “She is nine years”  answered her mother.   I was truly shocked.   Many more were malnourished and, when you put your hand on their shoulder it felt as though the bones underneath would break.

She’s loving her hearing aid. I’m sweating

One little boy had the deadened look of someone in permanent pain.   He had  black lines under is eyes as though someone had drawn them with  a felt pen.   Mucus was dripping out of one ear and, when I looked in, his ear drum was gone and his entire middle ear  was destroyed.   Kieran told me  that the infection had reached the roof of the ear and would enter his brain and  kill him.    He was first on the surgery list .    The operation means he is not out of pain and his life has been saved.   He’ll have a hearing problem but hearing aids will  work wonders for him.

A fine lump of a grasshopper

One little  girl with  a hearing loss caused by continuous infections also had a tongue tie and could not speak properly.   She also went to surgery .   Now her tongue is untied, she has hearing aids and she’ll able to speak .

Not everybody loved us

The entire experience working with E.N.T. Zambia  was thrilling, shocking and humbling.

Thrilling because I know that our work  saved some lives and improved many others.

Shocking because when you are face to face up close and personal with the everyday reality  suffered by the world’s poorest.   It  it is so much worse than the worst you’ve seen on television.

And humbling because as you realise  just how truly privileged you are some mother puts her had to hr heart and with tears in her eyes says,   “I am thanking God that you have come to help us.”

And I think to myself, I have to come back and do more.



CONTACT : [email protected]


Leave a Comment
  1. MOSES CHILESHE / Jul 29 2013 10:05 am

    i have my boy who is having hearing problem and speech, i was refered to look for specialist ,please help.


  2. krema kasali / Jul 10 2018 8:58 pm

    I have a problem, where can I find you


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