James Madison University

JMU Graduate Students and Professors provide Audiological Services to HIV+ Children in Nairobi, Kenya

PHOTO: JMU Students examine child

On May 27th 2010, James Madison University Audiology students began a two week journey to Kenya, East Africa to provide audiological services to children at the Nyumbani Children's Home and clinics. Steven Kulsar '11, Meredith Robotti '11, Lauren McIntosh '10 and Sarah Sporck '10 accompanied Dr. Brenda Ryals, JMU Professor in CSD, and Dr. Donna Mallory, Clinical Audiologist/part-time JMU clinical faculty, at the invitation of Dr. Tomi Browne, founder of HEARt of the Village on the humanitarian venture.

For the past 6 years, Dr. Browne has routinely visited Nairobi to provide audiological services to children referred through the Nyumbani Organization. Nyumbani, meaning "home" in Swahili was established in 1992 by the late Father D'Agostino as a refuge for children orphaned as a result of HIV and AIDS. The Nyumbani organization has grown to encompass not only the Children's Home but also the Village and the Lea Toto project which provides medical services to HIV+ children in the slums of Kibera. JMU students provided hearing tests, hearing aid fitting and educational services to more than 250 children and clinical medical officers during the visit. Dr. Ryals said that the trip was a great success "providing valuable educational training experiences for JMU students and delivering essential hearing health care to children in need".

The trip was sponsored by the JMU Chapter of the Student Academy of Audiology (SAA). SAA fundraising efforts resulted in over $1,000 dollars toward the trip and garnered the support of the JMU Office of International Programs and a $5,000 educational grant from Oticon, Inc. Additional equipment and supplies for hearing testing were donated by Biologic, Inc., Adrian Davis of the MRC in the UK, Otodynamics and MedRx. Students had the opportunity to use video-otoscopy to train medical staff and automated otoacoustic emission testing to screen for hearing loss in infants and very young children. According to both students and faculty the experience was "a once in a lifetime educational and service opportunity".