Dr. Battat is proud to be part of a local and global humanitarian initiative, Hearing The Call. Hearing The Call is an organization that serves local as well as international communities, with trips to Zambia, Guatemala, Mozambique, Ecuador, and Jordan, among several other locations. It functions to provide immediate hearing healthcare access to those with no access to hearing healthcare globally. Its mission is also to train, educate, and equip caregivers on-site to create sustainable hearing care to the areas served. Dr. Battat shares her day-to-day trip experiences and reflections on her recent trip to serve Jordan refugees with her son, here.
Jordan Humanitarian Clinic Day 1: Making instant earmolds for teeny tiny ears is such a skill. There were plenty of learning moments. In the states, we usually take earmold impressions and send them to a hearing aid lab to be made. To watch them come to completion in person was fascinating. Here’s a video of our local earmold lab, aka Anas.
Jordan Humanitarian Clinic: Day 1 on the books. What a day. We worked through a bus breakdown, no AC, missing equipment, and plenty of other issues. The team worked with such big hearts and so much grace. Here’s to so many hearing smiles, and sometimes tears. My heart is full.
P.S. the kids were overjoyed picking out their toys and playing with them while they waited to get through the stations.
Clinic Day 2. We are en route to our clinic destination. We have more patients lined up today, and we are down two audiologists (sick) and our photographer. Additionally, we haven’t been able to retrieve some of our equipment (batteries and earmold material) that has been flagged and held up at the airport. There are lots of conversations on getting our stations to work more efficiently so that we can help as many people as possible.
Jordan Humanitarian Trip clinic Day 2 on the books. Unlike yesterday, today’s stream of patients was steady. Working with a larger space (that was both air conditioned and all on the same floor) made it easier to handle the challenges. After sharing learnings from yesterday’s clinic, we were able to make decisions that helped make the stations work more cohesively. Of course there are always issues with supply, connection, determining candidacy etc, but we pushed through.
Highlights: so many hearing smiles. Today, we also learned that the donated items we all brought along in our suitcases (toys, clothes, personal items) will be gifted to orphans. My heart is so full.
We missed our audiologists that were out (we definitely had to hustle a bit more with out them) and look forward to their return tomorrow.
Today time flew. At some point, you realize it’s 6pm and you’re tired and didn’t feel the fatigue come on until you stopped.
Grateful to navigate it all with giants.
Jordan Humanitarian Clinic Day 3
This day (which was our last clinic day), by far, was the toughest. We worked a good 12 hours with some snacks here and there. Finding the energy to push through the last few hours was tough. Most of our patients traveled hours to be seen, tested, and fitted with hearing aids. It was difficult to turn any of them away.
There were so many learnings. I will try to be brief.
#1: The field of audiology in the US isn’t very large. For this reason, most audiologists practice alone or practice with a few other colleagues at their sites (hospital, clinic, private practice, school). Being able to test and fit hearing aids with each other is a huge learning experience for even veteran audiologists. You pick up little tricks and shortcuts, and get different angles on decision-making from one another. It is like being in school again and it was one of the most valuable experiences I have ever had. My colleagues are my teachers and I am so very blessed to work alongside them.
#2: Our team consisted of several local university audiology students. They were our translators, audiology assistants, and also our patient liaisons. I have never seen students so zealous about learning. These individuals certainly did not take this opportunity for granted, and wanted to absorb every method of testing/fitting and understand why we did what we did. A humanitarian trip is a short term solution. Supporting local educational audiological growth creates a long term sustainable solution. Students are the future. We love and value them.
#3: The first few moments after hearing aids are activated on a child that has never had access to hearing are pure magic. At first, they are confused, and then once they realize they are hearing the words you are speaking, a smile and sometimes giggles ensues. You can’t help but smile and laugh yourself. This is drug that keeps us coming back for more. We call it a “hearing smile” and it is everything.
#4: Hearing again is not simply a quality of life issue, but life changing. Our patients on this trip shared with us their stories and dreams. They want to hear in school classrooms, they want to hold jobs, they want to meet others and marry, and they want to hear their friends, family, and loved ones. Yesterday, I learned of a young lady whose family celebrated her at her hearing aid fitting. Speaking with suitors had been so difficult. She turned to her dad and said, “Now I can get married?”
#5: Emotions are bound to get high on these trips. I have experienced so much joy and sorrow all at once. Knowing we have made a difference in one person’s life has brought me great joy, but it is a drop in the bucket and that is the gut-wrenching part. You leave knowing there are so many people you haven’t been able to help.
#6: Watching my son take part on this trip has filled my heart beyond words.
The first few moments after hearing aids are activated on a child that has never had access to hearing are pure magic. At first, they are confused, and then once they realize they are hearing the words you are speaking, a smile and sometimes giggles ensues. You can’t help but smile and laugh yourself. This is the drug that keeps us coming back for more. We call it a “hearing smile” and it is everything. Tune in to our short video to share in these pure moments of joy.