Live simply, so that others may simply live. ~ Gandhi
This morning we visited a center for hearing impaired children supported by Right to Play. It broke my heart to learn that many children in Africa become deaf because of untreated ear infections. There are several other illnesses that can cause an auditory nerve damage such as measles, meningitis, autoimmune disease, Mumps and HIV-Aids. All common diseases in Africa.
Some of the children have pre-lingual deafness while others have become deaf after the acquisition of language. I did not know that post-lingual deafness is far more common than pre-lingual deafness. In Canada, many of theses children would be able to greatly benefit from hearing aids equipment but unfortunately, very few in this country can afford this locally considered advanced medicinal equipment.
We were also told that these children are the lucky ones in the sense that their parents accepted to send them to this specialized educational center for hearing impaired children. In many instances, the child is marginalized by the family and isolated from the rest of the world because the disability is viewed as shameful. Sadly it can take years to get a diagnostic because families cannot afford or refuse medical help. I cannot imagine the tragedy it must be for these young children to suddenly not be able to hear without understanding why it is happening to them.
There must be a great amount of loneliness that must arise as a result of rejection from loved ones, isolation caused by the inability to communicate with friends and loved ones, and difficulty in accepting the disability. The challenge is made greater by the need for those around them to adapt to the person’s hearing loss and sadly the common lack of educational tools to do so. Yet the children we met courageously strive to learn sign language and master lip reading so they too can communicate at least with one another.
We witnesses the games created within the Right to Play program adapted to hearing impaired children. The teacher that had received the RTP formation was absolutely fantastic in his explanations to the children and the enthusiasm he displayed while teaching. What also made the visit very special is that Heather is able to communicate using sign language so we were able to exchange with the children. Heather lived for almost three years in Trinidad and Tobago to serve as a disability Sports Program Officer with Commonwealth Games Canada. She developed and established a camp for children who are hearing-impaired from islands across the Caribbean called Camp ABLE (Active Bodies, Leadership, and Esteem).
During our visit, it was pouring rain outside like it would in what we would describe as a tropical storm. It was incredibly humid and hot at the same time. Heather and I were sweating very badly from our exercising experiences with the children. A very short moment after the storm, the streets and the sandy play ground were dry again. Perhaps this can be explained by the 35 degrees Celsius temperature feeling like 45 in Caro’s personal humidex scale. Unfortunately when we were driving around after the visit, we could see the smaller alley sand roads flooded with water. It is sad to think about how the mosquitoes are attracted to those watery sandy potholes in a country where many of them carry malaria knowing that very few here have medication to prevent it.
Malaria is a parasitic disease that involves high fevers, shaking chills, flu-like symptoms, and anemia. The Center for Disease Control estimates that there are 300-500 million cases of malaria each year, and more than 1 million people die. Sadly in Africa, a child dies every 45 seconds of Malaria, the disease accounts for 20% of all childhood deaths.
For a second lunch in a row, I chose the fish which happened to be tilapia this time. I am not used to receive a plate featuring the whole fish including the skin, the head and eyes and the bones. After much work I was able to find my fish’s flesh, however I would compare my findings to the athletic African lean chicken I had the first day. Robert and Martin chose the goat which I had never tried before. I believe it will be the last time. Not a bad taste, just not my type of loveable texture and a bit too much chubbiness material to my liking. Heather decided to play it safe and chose only what we had as a side dish, the white rice.
After lunch we returned to the Right to Play office to have a debriefing session because Martin is leaving us tomorrow night to return to Calgary. This makes me sad to think that we are leaving the next day! We had a great discussion with Roméo and Marie-Joséphine about the programs and how we can make them better, the plan to expand to more schools and reach out to more children, the ways they and we can fundraise for Right to Play and how we can continue to promote and market the organization here and in the world.
When we returned to the hotel around 5pm we decided that we would venture out to a new restaurant for tonight for a change from the many omelettes we have had for the previous dinners. As the team was about to go its separate ways, Robert asked me what I was doing and if I would like to go on a run with him again. The timing of this invitation came at the perfect moment because it was just about then that in my mind I was giving up on exercising for the day because quite frankly all of us were exhausted from yesterday’s marathon day and today’s activities. Excuses – excuses I know! But there is perhaps something wrong with me because I cannot seem to be able to refuse an invitation to workout. Half of it is because I love to eat almost as much as I love hockey so in order to ‘’feed’’ this addiction without guilt, I must know I have somewhat burn a few calories prior to the main event of dinner. Exercising does also help to make me a decent hockey player so why refuse when I can have good company. Robert was driven by two motivational factors. The first one being his determination to make 30 minutes without stopping in this humid climate which he has not been able to achieve two days ago. The second being that he must take care of himself because and I am quoting him ‘’I must exercise because my body is my temple.’’ Robert was late because he was watching the French Open so I began falling asleep so I decided to make him pay by ordering a cappuccino… I mean let him treat me to a cappuccino and bill it to is room. The absents are always wrong and silence is the voice of consent. But Robert arrived when my coffee was delivered so I had to consume it in about 2 minutes before we went outside to meet the heat. My heart was racing from the caffeine and I wish I could say that it made me feel better as I was running but it was not the case. Unless Robert was much faster today which is possible. His pride had been shattered two days ago. I was the one dragging today and felt like I was moving backwards on the beach. At least it was a fact that it was much windier than two days ago and Robert did not offer to let me use him as my windshield. Because he was able to achieve is daily dream of running 30 min straight and dragged me to run with him I will forgive him this time!
We went to a French restaurant called Sorrento for dinner. Yes it was French even though Sorrento is in Italy. I only know that because I went last summer. Beautiful city by the way! We had a wonderful meal and a terrific time listening to Robert educate us about wine tasting and sharing memorable moments from his High School that made him the man he is today, and finally arguing about social stratification and the chances of achieving the American dream of success, fame and wealth through resiliency and hard work.
Thank you for reading!