Rotarian Connie Cunningham, an Audiometrist completed her third trip to Pokhara in Nepal and spent two weeks  assisting with clinics for the locals. On this visit Margaret, wife of Honorary Member Geoff Macfarlane, accompanied Connie, being a nurse was very helpful and she was able to assist with ear syringing and other important day to day tasks. Margaret said that it was a trip of a lifetime and is already planning a return visit.

The Rotary Club of Mitchell River has continued to support the program, donating a further $1000 from last year's funds, while our club has donated another $2000 and see this as a very worthwhile ongoing project. The positive is that David Hine, after seeing the support that comes from Rotary has himself joined a Rotary club in his home town of Townsville, QLD, who have also come on board to financially support the program.



The Hearing Project Nepal was created October 2009 by a colleague of mine who after retirement from his business as Audiometrist/Proprietor decided that he wanted to help hearing impaired children and adults in a country that has little or no facility of this nature. His name is David Hine and together with his partner Valerie Lister, and the support of other volunteers, the Hearing Project Nepal has been successfully running for almost 3 years.

The aim of this project was not only to provide a free service to the people of Nepal, but also to create employment for some Nepali people who would be trained to continue the work in the absence of volunteers. We now have 4 staff members who are being paid by David and Valerie, two full time and 1 part time Audiometrist who works 3 days a week, as he also manages a Pharmacy during the other 3 days, (the Nepal working week consists of a 6 day week), and he also makes all the ear molds that are required. We have a caretaker who lives in the premises who keeps everything clean and tidy, and also looks after the garden.

On an average we would see approximately 10 to 20 patients a day, 6 days a week, with the exception of days when an orphanage decide to send in 50 or 60 children to have routine checks, this entails an orthoscopic examination of ears, nose and throat. A preliminary tuning fork test is routine, and if there is evidence of a hearing deficit, a full comprehensive hearing test is done. We see many cases of wax impaction, or ear infection which require medication, this is given freely by the staff who are qualified to administer the treatment, and follow ups are always done a fortnight later. Referrals to ENT specialists are also common, but because the people are so poor, most of them never proceed. We are also working with Dr Mike, an ENT specialist who volunteers his time at the INF (International Nepal Fellowship) where our staff work on ear camps and assist with hearing tests and he performs the necessary surgery.

We went out to a remote village about 1 hr drive from Pokhara, remember, the roads are horrific, and the other drivers are even worse, so although the distance is not that far in our terms, it is exhausting getting there. We set up at a hospital out building, which was worse than any of our garden sheds,  no airconditioning, just a ceiling fan and a lot of bodies in this building creating more heat when the outside temperature is 38 degrees celsius, you open the door to let 2 people out, and 10 would want to push through the door. That day we did 12 hours in total, we saw 131 patients, some would have walked 2 or 3 days to get there, and once there they just wait in que. Usually the limit is set to see 100 patients, but because they had an extra pair of hands, we just kept working until all were seen.

The Rotary Club of Bairnsdale decided to apply for a Rotary Matching Grant for this project and with generous donations from our fellow Rotary Clubs of Mitchell River and Bairnsdale Sunrise, were able to secure a grant of over $20,000.00.  This was spent on much needed supplies.