Moving from theories to practise

|By Teresia Maina|

Earlier this year, our colleague, Arnold, told us about the World Hearing Day whose existence I was unaware of until this conversation. World Hearing Day is held on 3 March each year to raise awareness on how to prevent deafness and hearing loss and promote ear and hearing care across the world. The theme for 2023, as set by the World Health Organisation (WHO), was ‘Ear and hearing care for all! Let’s make it a reality’.  We decided to commemorate the day by working with our partner schools namely St. Michael’s School for the Hearing Impaired, Kitui, and Machakos School for the Hearing Impaired. Thanks to a partnership with a team of audiologists from Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), what was once an idea came to fruition.

Up and early on Friday, 03 March 2023, we arrived at the Machakos School for the Hearing Impaired, our office for the day. In my team were four audiologists who were there to offer their professional services pro bono to the students in both the primary and secondary school sections. A Community Outreach Programme (COP) volunteer was also present to assist in coordination. The day’s activities began with an assembly where my sign language skills were put to the test. Within a short time, I would find out if my school fees for the Kenya Sign Language classes offered in the University courtesy of the Community Service Centre had been put to good use. Phew! I was able to introduce myself in KSL with very little help from one of the teachers at the school. A health talk on care of ears was given to the students and their teachers, encouraging them to strive to observe some of the guidelines among them not inserting foreign objects in their ears. I thought this statement was simply a formality but I was in for a surprise.

The youngest in the school, PP1learners, were the first beneficiaries of this camp, their loving and gentle teachers accompanying them. Quite a number of them were terrified at the sight of the otoscope but their teachers reassured them that no injections awaited them. I was deeply moved by the care and concern of these teachers towards these learners since the majority of them did not know how to use sign language yet somehow, the teachers were able to communicate the learners’ needs to the doctors. I was surprised to see several students have leaves, short twigs removed from their ears. I wondered why they were inserting objects in their ears but I later understood that the discomfort they experience caused by loud vibrations in their environment was much more significant than the pain of having foreign objects in there.

My day got a million times better when the secondary school students came for screening. Outrightly, I could see familiar faces of students that I interacted with when they were younger and studying at Kitui School for the Hearing Impaired, a primary school. It was a joyful encounter as we all signed, almost simultaneously, to say that we remembered each other and had brief conversations as they waited in line for their turn. I nearly cried when I saw a not-so-little girl that I had made good friends with right from class four and now she was in form two! Bidding her goodbye the last time before she sat for her KCPE was heart-breaking because I wanted to continue with the friendship as I was unsure if our paths would ever cross again but now here she was! A bit taller and her hair longer. They grow up so fast!

This experience brought to life some of the principles that guide our activities at the Community Service Centre, one of them being quality over quantity (or as my gen Z friends would write it: quality >>>>> quantity). This helps us to focus on building lasting relationships with the beneficiaries of our programmes and this encounter served as a pat on the back for indeed, our engagement with these institutions over the past few years have opened new horizons for friendship to all who volunteer with us in the Community Outreach Programme (COP). If you’d like to join our activities, use this link to sign up as a volunteer.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked