Nha Trang’s fresh ocean air and laid-back vibe has been a welcome change for our team after two busy weeks, first in the heart of the city and then out in the rural countryside.

Nha Trang doesn’t have much in the way of support for children with hearing loss but there are pockets of potential and a lot of desire to do right by these children. Based on interactions with Nha Trang participants in our summer Teacher Training Program, I felt that our talented team could do a lot to help the teachers and families here and so I added Nha Trang to this Mobile Mission schedule.

We are providing training this week to teachers, technicians, and familes from two educational centers and a hearing aid dispenser. We’re helping efforts to establish a modicum of support for audiology in Nha Trang so that families don’t have to make the long drive to Ho Chi Minh City for services.

We adjusted our audiology training for the week given the mix of experience in our trainee group. Some came wih 4-5 years under their belt while others are just starting out in the field. We also have about 50 children to test this week, some of whom will be getting new hearing aids from us. The audiology team had their work cut out for them to manage all of this, but with a bit of creative ingenuity, were able to shuffle things around to benefit all involved.

Lauri and the new trainees are working together at Hand In Hand. In the morning, a few children are brought in for testing in the brand new sound booth that Hien, the director, constructed by hand just a few weeks ago. The small count of children allows for Lauri to take more time with the trainees to walk them through the steps involved with a conducting a pediatric hearing test. The afternoons are devoted to small group discussion about the hows and whys behind the testing experiences from the morning combined with basic audiology lectures to give the participants a starting foundation of knowledge.

There are currently no audiology services in Nha Trang. Families travel for hours to Ho Chi Minh City for support. Hand In Hand hopes to change that with its new soundbooth and the training we are providing to these participants will help ensure that there are people here who can provide these necessary supports. We hope that the training also increases awareness and confidence in the community for the audiology services that Hand In Hand could provide.

While Lauri has been working with the beginners, Zofia and Jacque have been stationed at the Rehabilitation Center, a school program for children across multiple disabilities. The Vietnamese training participants who are more advanced in their knowledge of audiology are working alongside our professionals, testing children and fitting hearing aids on those who need them. We are yet again seeing alot of rubella babies which has re-ignited my desire to find a way to improve access to MMR vaccines. There are also a high number of children with profound hearing losses who would benefit from cochlear implants, something that is financially out of reach for most parents. The team is doing a great job working with the children and counseling the families on their child’s hearing loss.

I made a new friend when a cute little boy decided to adopt me as his buddy for the day. We spent time together throughout the waiting period for his hearing test and he followed me around, imitating my every move. When his new hearing aids were fit on him, his mother gave me such an unexpected and touching big hug of gratitude. It really made my day.

Tonight was the second of our Parent meetings. The first on Monday night covered audiology while the topics tonight focused on what families can do to support the auditory and language development of their children. We also supplied listening kits to the families comprised of supplies to help care for their children’s hearing aids. The place was packed and both nights, they had to bring in extra chairs to accomodate everyone. There was so much positive energy and it was great for our team to able to be a part of finding solutions for their children.