Kenya: Rollercoaster week
01. October 2020
A Rollercoaster Week in KenyaBy Sonova volunteer Yovina Khiroya, Clinical Audiologist and Regional Sales Manager at Phonak GB
In February, a team of seven Sonova volunteers travelled to Kenya to support the great work of the Hear the World Foundation – and one of them was: me! As I am passionate about helping others, I was excited to be part of a professional team to support the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) program of the Kijabe Hospital. Our common goal: to improve the quality of life for children with hearing loss.
We started on February 10th 2020 – and it turned out to become a rollercoaster week! After landing in Nairobi the night before the #HearKenya team set off at 6.30am for Kijabe – a journey which in theory should take an hour but actually took closer to three!
Kijabe is a mountainous village roughly 45km north of Nairobi. It is home to the AIC Kijabe Hospital where the #HearKenya project is taking place. In 2017, the World Health Organization reported that that Kenyans are more afflicted by hearing loss compared to the global average of five people with hearing difficulties in every 100. This has a huge impact on the education of children in Kenya. The number of deaf graduates in Kenya is incredibly low. The Hear the World Foundation has been supporting the audiology department for the past two years, this was the first visit to Kijabe. One of the goals of this visit was to provide some face to face training for the two local audiologists, Elizabeth and Jonathan, as well as carrying out hearing screenings in the local population and to raise hearing health awareness.
During the week Jasmine spent most of her time with Jonathan training him on various diagnostic audiometry methods whilst also seeing adult patients. Ora and I spent most of our time with Elizabeth training on paediatric testing and fitting techniques whilst also screening paediatric patients. Due to a lack of a formal audiology training scheme in Kenya, Jonathan and Elizabeth are mostly self-taught. Thanks to the Hear the World Foundation, Elizabeth has been on a training programme paediatric audiology in Lübeck, Germany on. Hence, it was a fairly intensive week for training! However, Jonathan and Elizabeth have a keen hunger to learn more and are incredibly receptive to constructive feedback.
In addition to all the training, between two clinic rooms over two hundred patients were seen within the five days we were at AIC Kijabe Hospital. For some of them it was a life changing moment, for example for little Grace: She received her very first hearing aids. It will take some time for her to get used to this new world full of sounds, but soon she will wear her hearing aids with joy – and improve her speech skills, I am sure!