Patients fitted: Over 700?
Today was our final day of fitting!
Rosaline and I split up and worked alone as there were enough fitting chairs to do so, and I was paired up with a new translator named Amanda who was quite good! The day went smoothly and we fitted all of the patients who showed up, but we did have to scrounge like crazy for hearing aids at the end. Because we had so many walk-ons, and because most of the patients here in China required lower power hearing aids, we really ran low on low power units. At the end if the day we fit a few people with power 4's turned down very low that would have been better served with a power 1, but it all worked out in the end and no one was left wanting. We even finished up before 4:00 pm.
Rosaline and I walked back to a street vendor we saw last night and picked up a bunch of necklaces as they are extremely cheap and will make great gifts. Tonight we have our final group dinner and then tomorrow we have an organized tour of Snow Mountain. We're hoping that afterwards we will have enough time to go to the much larger Old Town, and then finally the next day we head home.
Update: Tonight's dinner was actually a closing ceremony and the sponsors that were present for the entire trip (including Rosaline, David and I) were set at the head table!
The food was excellent (for traditional Chinese), and there were some incredibly moving performances by disabled Chinese persons. I must admit I teared up when the hearing impaired girl that Bill recently fitted performed for us on the flute as a thank you. It was incredible. Her father is blind and she is hearing impaired and they work together during the performance - her father conducting so she can keep time, and her playing (which was incredible).
There was also a man with no arms who painted some Chinese art on the spot by holding the brush in his mouth.
I certainly am a lucky man to have the use of all of my limbs and faculties, and to have been born and live where I do. That's probably the most profound thing I have learned and focused on over the past two weeks. I may think I have "problems" in my life, but I don't. Not even close. I am unbelievably blessed.
There was also a troupe of hearing impaired dancers (mostly children) at the dinner who, for some reason, did not come to get fitted with hearing aids. So immediately after the dinner, Bill and Tani opened up their hotel room and turned it into a temporary fitting area and we worked until almost midnight putting hearing aids on all of the kids that performed at the dinner. It took an unusually long time as we basically had very few hearing aids left and Bill and Tani had to scrounge through the leftovers from the mission to come up with hearing aids of the correct power for all of the children. It certainly was not ideal, but in the end everyone who wanted hearing aids got them, and all of the kids were extremely grateful. It was a great way to end the mission and it really underlined what the Austins and the Starkey Hearing Foundation is all about.