Paula and colleagues from across the industry embarked upon a hearing mission, armed with hundreds of hearing aids, to a small village just outside Nairobi where there is a deaf school.  Paula shares her experiences…..

Our Kenya Experience

Last November I was contacted out of the blue by an audiologist friend and his Kenyan wife who reminded me of a wish I expressed a few years ago to join them on a visit to The Reverend Muhoro Secondary School for the Deaf in Nyeri Kenya. Well what an adventure we have just had! We set off from Heathrow at the end of February with a team of 7, me, Rob & Jessie Davies (South East Hearing Centres), Alison Wright and Julia Vanhuyssteen (from Signia hearing aids) and Vicki Skeels (ex- owner of The Hearing Care Centre in Colchester) and her GP partner Baber Yusaf.

Signia had kindly donated 300 brand new hearing aids to take with us for the school. Jessie and Rob have been supporting this school for over 20 years and seen vast changes over that time. Rob set up an audiological service during that time in order for the students to have regular hearing tests, impressions taken and hearing aids fitted and repaired. He was also responsible for training a local audiometrician -who also teaches at the school to continue some of the work year round. Jessie and Rob usually visit annually to carry out clinics and take along donated new aids and equipment and continue with training. Unfortunately due to covid they had been unable to go for 3 years so we found a great need for our help and expertise when we arrived!

We arrived to a moving welcome ceremony in our honour with speeches, singing, signing, a short comedy skit and even some Scottish Dancing! During the dancing the music stopped briefly but the students continued with their dancing never missing a beat as most of them have no hearing so learn the moves by copying ,memory and feeling vibrations. It brought to mind the recent Strictly moment with Rose dancing and the music was deliberately cut to let us experience a silent world of dance.

The school has around 300 students many of whom have no useful hearing at all and all the students communicate via signing. Some also have partial hearing loss and use hearing aids. All schools in Kenya are fee paying but this schools fees are government subsidised from £400 per year to £250 per year. It is a fully boarding school and students study there for 4 years.

The school is in the process of building a brand new audiology block and the first floor was just being completed as we arrived! Rob performed the official opening ceremony and then it was full steam ahead. Baber set up a general medical room where the concrete was yet to set and the drain on the sink was not connected but these minor issues were sorted out in a jiffy. We all needed interpreters as Kenyan sign language is different to British sign language and only Jessie could speak Swahilli! Some of the students could also speak a little English too. The first day was spent re-assessing the students hearing and taking many impressions of their ears for new earmoulds which are made on site.

Camera crews from local TV arrived to report on and publicise that we were holding a general clinic for anyone in the local area which was happening on Day 2. This as it turned our was slightly too successful as when we arrived on Day 2 there was a huge queue stretching to the entrance gate and people had walked miles to be able to access our services. It was a very busy day with us all working flat out seeing everything from tiny babies to very elderly people some with multiple disabilities.

At the end of Day 2 it was terribly sad when we had to turn some of the people away without helping them, there were just too many to see. The next day when we returned we found that Simon Kaiga their resident audiometrician had seen some of them on his own from 5am that day. The people had camped out locally in the hope of being seen. A very humbling experience.

Day 3 was again dedicated to seeing the students and fitting some of the new hearing aids. Also doing more training with Simon on the new Signia range of hearing aids. At a very special moment we were each invited to a tree planting ceremony with a tree and plague dedicated to each of us.  I think this is a ploy by the school to encourage us to return ! Rob and Jessie did the same 20 years ago and their tree is now over 30 ft tall!

We all learnt a huge amount form the trip and will be better organised next time with perhaps an appointment system to avoid the long queues. There may even be a second floor to the audiology suite by then too. It was an exhausting and very fulfilling few days and we all loved the experience.

After the mission had finished we headed out on Safari – well what a treat!!  We saw all of the big 5 except for a Rhino!

What a privilege to be able to share my passion for audiology in such a powerful way.

The trip will stay with me forever – I just hope I can go back one day – hopefully my tree will be standing tall!

A special thank you to Rob and Jesse for making the whole trip such an amazing experience.

Anyone wishing to know more about sponsoring a student at the school please contact me by email,

(thank you also to Vicki Skeels – who helped me put this article together)