Saturday, September 3, 2016

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles...and a baby llama.

Thursday morning we had a brief 15-minute television interview on, “Salud Es Vida”.  We discussed many aspects of audiology, including: general ear care, causes, signs, and effects of hearing loss, and communication strategies. I think it’s safe to say that we were all a bit nervous but it turned out well and we all enjoyed the opportunity.  After the interview, we were treated to breakfast by Rachel and Claudette from Vive Peru, followed by an unexpected parade on the street outside. Thursday afternoon, we decided to do a bit more exploring and took a 20 minute ride to Huaca de la Luna y Huaca del Sol. There we were able to see pre-Incan temples that were discovered in 1991 and had be amazingly well preserved. We had a wonderful tour guide who explain more about the significance of the temples and indigenous peoples; there were some great pictures taken!! 

Greg discussing general hearing health on a local television news segment

Clare and Shannon discussing causes of hearing loss and communication strategies

Traditional Polish/Ukranian dancers during the multicultural parade

Clare, Jenna and Shannon exploring the exterior ruins of Huaca de la Luna

Thursday night we had our last dinner at our home stay, exchanging gifts and thank you cards to our host family. They are an amazing family and we were so fortunate and grateful for their immense and genuine hospitality. We could not thank them enough for everything that they did for us! After our goodbyes, we left for our very last overnight bus.  We arrived in Lima on Friday morning and checked in to the Dragonfly Hostel for the second time during our trip. We all spent the day walking around town and buying gifts for our friends and family. That afternoon we said goodbye to Jenna as she headed out for her flight to Arequipa; she will continue her travels in Peru for a few more weeks.

Saying goodbye to our amazing host family

The last few days of our trip were at our own expense and the three of us decided to head to Cuzco and Machu Picchu to explore Peru a bit more. Saturday was spent exploring Cuzco – the markets, Cristo Blanco, etc.  Sunday we spent touring the Sacred Valley, including Pisac and Ollantaytambo, and from there, we boarded a train to Aguas Calientes. Monday morning we visited Machu Picchu which was an amazing  and quite indescribable experience. We spent about 7 hours there taking pictures, petting llamas, hiking, (Greg made it to the top) and going on a tour to learn more about the ruins. It was definitely unforgettable!  The visit was brief and within the next 24 hours, we were back in Lima – we truly traveled by planes, trains, and automobiles. Wednesday morning we were up bright and early to head home to Chicago. We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Peru - spreading our interests across audiology, screening kids and adults, and exploring the country. Thank you to everyone who has offered us support both financially, through donations and fund raising, and personally through our wonderful community and families; it helped us take the third year of this project to a new level. We hope the momentum from this year’s project will help us to expand the services we are able to provide in Peru in the future. Ciao!!

Lab coats are considered proper climbing gear

The view from the peak of Machu Picchu Mountain

NUSAA at Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Clare with her new best friend

Wrapping up our volunteer work.

Wednesday morning was our last day of volunteer work. We headed out to the same community that we visited on Monday morning however, instead of going to a school, we went to the senior center to do hearing screenings. Upon arrival, we noticed that the room was very large, with high ceilings, but we were able to use the office to perform the testing. We screened about 25 people, all of whom had some degree of hearing loss.  Therefore, we focused on counseling them about communication strategies, such as clear speech, and made referrals to get their ears cleaned by the local ENT. Many of the seniors that we helped were very appreciative and excited that we were there. This screening completed our volunteer work through Vive Peru!

Clare and one of the community members

This is the first year we were able to perform hearing screenings in the community

Shannon performing otoscopy

After lunch, we headed to the Vive Peru office to meet with Rachel so that we could review the past two weeks and plan for upcoming projects. We had discussed, as a team, our thoughts about the program over lunch so that we were prepared to communicate our ideas with Rachel. She was very open to our feedback and she helped us brainstorm new ideas and plans for next year’s trip. After seeing that the seminar’s audience primarily consisted of ENTs, primary care physicians, nurses, and other health professionals, we were all interested in working more with them and gaining a better understanding about hearing health in Peru and how a person is 1) diagnosed with a hearing loss and 2) the treatment plan for the person.  Recognizing the importance of this, our hope is that it will result in a sit down with Peruvian health professionals in order to expand our knowledge about the resources available to those with hearing loss in Peru and subsequently be implemented for our visit next year.

Since this was the first year we performed hearing screenings, we were able to review the tests and examine the results, unlike previous visits that solely focused on hearing education.  We discussed, with Rachel, the possibility of following up with the patients that did not pass the initial screenings and why this was important.  There are several resources we could access through Vive Peru, that could be useful in carrying our this goal next year and we are looking forward to exploring their implementation into our work.  As we continue to work with Vive Peru, it is our hope to continue to expand upon the work and the services we can provide. We have many goals for next year's trip and are excited to start working on them this fall!!!

The end of week 1, some travel and back to the schools!

We made it back to United States safe and sound! We apologize for the delay in blog posts due to a very busy work schedule followed by some adventuring, but here are three new updates about our final week in Peru.

After completing the seminar, we said our goodbyes to Dr. Phelan as she left that night to return to the US so she could continue her audiology work back at the Northwestern clinic. Having a clinician with us this year was a valuable addition to our team and we hope to continue this tradition on future trips. With the weekend free, the group decided to head to Huaraz to do some hiking/exploring. We hopped on another overnight bus on Friday and spent Saturday exploring the town and acclimatizing to the elevation. On Sunday morning, bright and early, we headed out to Huascaran National Park and hiked Laguna 69 – a 6-hour round trip hike with a peak altitude of 15,000 feet!! It was quite the adventure, but it was well worth it! That same day, we got back on the overnight bus to Trujillo (we were getting quite good at these) and arrived early Monday morning. We just wanted to mention that we have had many great sponsors who have helped fund this volunteer trip, but all recreational traveling has been paid for by ourselves. 

Just one of the friends we made on our way trekking to Laguna 69
We did it! 15,091 feet!  The glacial lake looks tropical due to copper-oxide.

After a few hours of sleep, we were off to Institucion Educativa Antonio Torres Araujo to present to the 6th grade classrooms and perform hearing screenings. Greg and Jenna gave presentations while Shannon and Clare tested the students hearing. This was our third time back at this school and you could tell the kids had really warmed up to us – taking pictures/selfies, asking us questions while at recess, taking a peek at Greg’s tattoos. It was a really fun day with all of the kids and a great way to end our volunteer work with that school. 

The 6th grade class after our presentation

The kids were happy to see us after the weekend and wanted to take pictures!

Jenna is swarmed with affection from the kids.  

All the hugs!

Demonstrating how the eardrum works.

On Tuesday morning, we headed further outside of Trujillo and went to Institucion Educativa Alto Salaverry. It was interesting to see a different school and get a different perspective on the schools in Trujillo. The kids were out playing when we arrived and were all excited to see us and to learn that we were from the United States. After the kids returned to class, we set up in an empty classroom to perform the hearing screenings. The classrooms are very noisy and reverberant, which made it difficult for testing – we can only imagine the difficulties the kids may have hearing the teacher every day! Today, Greg and Jenna were in charge of the screenings, while Shannon and Clare presented to the 4th grade classrooms. The kids were thrilled about the different demonstrations – tuning fork, noise thermometer, slinky wave – and even more ecstatic about the earplugs that were passed out at the end. We wrapped up with everything just before lunch and packed up the van with help from some eager students. We said our goodbyes and headed home for a wonderful lunch prepared by Senora Mercy. 

The kids wanted to hear the music on our phones, so Shannon was happy to introduce them to The Beatles.

The kids of Alto Salaverry insisted on carrying our bags for us.

We spent Tuesday afternoon at a community outside of Trujillo called Sr. De Los Milagros with the kids of the different families (ages 4-10).  We started by walking around the neighborhood to gather the kids, and we were all assigned a new friend to walk with. We were unable to perform hearing screenings due to poor testing conditions; however, we still gave our presentation and did activities with the kids. At the end, we gave each kid earplugs and instructed them on their proper use. We had some extra time, so we all played games with the kids before leaving to head back to Vive Peru. 

Gathering the kids from the community

The kids were all eager to participate in our demonstrations

Clare and Shannon teaching the kids about the loudness of different sounds in their environment.

A quick anatomy lesson by Jenna.

The kids of Sr. De Los Milagros and the wonderful volunteers from Vive Peru.

Trying on their new earplugs.

Before dinner, Senor Jose was delighted to share information about his coffee shop and told us about all of the different types of coffee they serve (one of which comes from his family’s farm). He even made us cappuccinos from those beans!!! It was just another demonstration of how kind the family was during this entire stay. The night ended with a delicious dinner prepared by Senora Mercy - we wish we had more pictures of the wonderful food, but we felt it would be rude to have our phones at the dinner table. Let’s just say, her cooking will be missed! 

Cappuccino's compliments of SeƱor Jose.