About two weeks have passed since my return from Africa, but the emotions I felt thanks to ReSound For Africa and World Medical Aid are still deep and overpowering. So, here I am to share with you my short intense experience at the Cottolengo Mission Hospital. From the beginning, I never had any doubts about the offer to join the Team of Ambassadors of ReSound For Africa and take part in the fitting of ReSound hearing aids on hearing-impaired people in the rural areas of Chaaria and Meru.
I knew about the situation we would face/experience, but the truth is that, until you see it with your own eyes, you don’t realise how lucky we are: I found myself face to face with dirt, poverty, as well as sanitary conditions that were extremely poor if not totally absent. All of this combines with the simplicity and great dignity in the behaviour of patients and local people in general.
With strong will and enthusiasm we managed to perform, in just 3 days, over 160 audiometric tests and to fit the 50 hearing aids which GN Resound had made available free of charge, also providing the batteries needed for both immediate and long-term use. Moreover, in those very few days, we trained Danis, Chris and Josephine from the local personnel. The 50 patients match 50 wide smiles, and facial features softening because of the intense emotion of being able to hear again, of returning to the world of the “living”, and at last escaping the isolation in which they had lived until that moment. To be honest, I admit that, on the second day, after fitting the last hearing aid, I wrote to my colleagues in Italy that it would be a dream to be able to fit so many hearing aids in just 2 days. But behind this thought, which is typically Western and a result of our outlook, the smiles and endless thanks of the patients appeared.
With this experience, I surely brought home a store of deep emotions, the awareness of the distance between our reality and the one that I experienced in Kenya, although for a very short time. There is so much I have done and much more that should be done in those areas, so poor but so rich in people. This is my nostalgia for Africa: a mix of positive and negative emotions that have left their mark on me, so much so that they have led me to divide my life between “before Chaaria” and “after Chaaria”. I am still thinking about those smiles, the endless thanks we received, and I am aware that we gave those people hope. Therefore I heartily thank GN in the persons of Valentina Rossi and Paolo Boffano, World Medical Aid in the person of Claudio Bondi (it is a privilege to have known him), and my colleagues Federico Turchi and Marco De Stefano, with whom I shared those special days.