The Education and Rehabilitation Center was buzzing with excitement this morning in anticipation of a special perfomance prepared for the famiiles, staff and children. Hien, Marianne, and I were invited to join in the fun and I am so glad we were able to take part. Everyone should be so lucky to start their Friday in warm, sunny Nha Trang surrounded by Chinese dragons, professional singers, and traditional dancers!

We went to Hand In Hand after the ceremony and Hien led me to the new audiology booth that her team had just finished building — by hand — at the center. She proudly opened the door, and as I entered, I was immediately taken by how well the room was constructed. Foam boards on the walls and some fabric draped overhead combine to act as soundproofing material. VRA toys line a shelf on the wall. A chair sits behind a small bookshelf converted into a table and extended in width to hold the testing equipment. They even laid down some composite tile on the floor as a finishing touch. All the pieces match in various shades of gray and combine to lend to an inviting, relaxing vibe. It was really impressive.

There are presently no audiology services at any of the hospitals in Nha Trang. Families are driving for hours on their motorbikes or taking an overnight train to the hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City for hearing tests, hearing aids, and hearing aid checks. After such a long journey, their children are tired and it can be incredibly challenging to get an accurate test. This means that multiple trips are often in the cards and when both parents need to work to put food on the table, it can create stress. When families return to Nha Trang, there is little information available to them about hearing loss and, as a result, they are not always clear on what their options are or how to help their children. I hope that our training here will provide some useful information to parents and start to network the teachers and families so that they can work together to address the gaps in services and information in Nha Trang.

Last Fall, one of the Global Foundation audiologists donated an audiometer to Hand In Hand to jumpstart efforts to establish audiology services here. With the sound booth, audiometer, a VRA donation from a hearing aid dispenser, and Hien’s audiology know-how, Hand in Hand is close to being able to provide Nha Trang’s families with its first local pediatric audiology center.

As we headed back out to the meeting room to continue our planning discussions for our training program, I noticed a wall of certificates and awards. Upon closer inspection, I saw that the Global Foundation’s summer teacher training program certificate is hanging front and center. Right on!