Thursday, December 31, 2015

Leaving Malawi for Namibia

My time in Malawi is ending. This month has gone so fast. Working with the baby vervet monkeys has been amazing. I have seen a lot of different types of primates, and I have learned a lot.

Now I’m preparing for my second month in Africa and my second project in Namibia. I’d love to say I’m feeling ready, but unfortunately I’ve had some bad luck during my last week in Malawi.

One of my hearing aids died This is a big deal. I’ve worn hearing aids since I was a baby. Hearing aids don’t make me into hearing person. I still need to lip read to understand what people say. But they make me less deaf. With the hearing aids, I know that someone is calling out to me so at least I can turn to look at them. 

At first I thought the battery was bad, but even with a new battery, the aid was dead. Second I thought maybe it was a moisture problem. Moisture corrodes the tiny parts in hearing aids and it’s very humid in Malawi. I put the aid in a dry-aid jar that’s supposed to dry out the moisture in the hearing aid. After 36 hours, it still didn’t work.

That crushed me. I still have another 2 months in Africa and two more projects where I have to meet new people and learn new routines. I am not sure that I can get by with just one hearing aid. Volunteers and staff members come from all over the world. Some of them have unfamiliar accents and I am worried that one hearing aid won’t be enough for me to hear and communicate with others. 

I guess I should have thought about a back-up plan for hearing aids. It turns out that many professionals in Africa don’t work between Christmas and New Year’s. My hearing aids are digital so even if I can get a new one, it needs to be programmed. My mother is trying to reach my audiologist in the States to find out about the programming. The next placement is in a very remote part of Namibia, but it seems like maybe there is a service that will deliver there. I’m hoping that I will get a replacement aid sometime early in January.

In the meantime, it will make this transition a bigger struggle. In a short time, I have come to love this place, and I know I will be very sad when I have to say good-bye to the monkeys that have been in my care. I will miss the people too. It took a little while to feel comfortable, but now I do. And now I am leaving. 

I have been checking out my next project. Namibia will be even hotter and more humid than Malawi. I haven’t seen a temperature of 100 in Malawi, but it looks like it will reach 100 in Namibia. The major city in Namibia is Windhoek, but I’ll be in a little place called Gobabis. If you check Google maps, you’ll see it’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere.

That’s probably good for the animals, but it won’t be great for communication. I’m sending this post from a guesthouse in Windhoek. I don’t know if I’ll be able to update my blog for the next month. If I can, I’ll post. But if you don’t see anything from me, don’t worry. It may not be easy, but I’m doing the work I love and I’ll tell you about it when I can. 

1 comment:

  1. Your love of your work will give you the perseverance to get through the communication difficulties. Everyone can see the passion you have for animals - that is communicated loud and clear - and you have a large skill set, too. You are already a strong person, and this will only make you stronger. I hope you can get a replacement, though!!!