Our first day at the clinic here in Parintins was amazing. We woke up to a huge breakfast, courtesy of the wonderful staff here. We had different types of fruit, eggs, local cheese, and some local dishes made of tapioca that were a little like pancakes. For someone who usually doesn't eat breakfast, it was an overwhelming amount of food! But what I tried was delicious.
In the morning we saw seven adult patients, most of who were coming in for follow-up appointments. The patients were all so excited to see volunteers and were happy to have us work with them, even though we couldn't really communicate with them very well, we were lucky to have Pedro, the audiologist who works here in Parintins. The clinic here was very well-stocked, and so we had everything we needed to check hearing, clean and re-tube hearing aids, perform earmold impressions, etc. We fit one woman with a new hearing aid, and she was so thrilled to be able to hear us--it was very satisfying.
In the afternoon we saw children and a teacher from the Padre Paulo Manna School, a school for children with hearing loss and other disabilities. Some of the children were here to rule out hearing loss as a root cause for other disabilities, while others had profound hearing loss. Interestingly, we saw two older children with uncorrected cleft palates--it made us very sad to imagine how hard it must be for these children to eat and communicate. I hope someday a surgical team will be able to work with them to repair their palates. In the meantime, at least they are able to attend a school that is geared towards special needs.
In the evening, Pedro took us down the street to see a stadium used in the Boi de Bumba festival. The Boi de Bumba festival is held every year in June, and it transforms sleepy Parintins into a huge, three-day-long party with thousands of tourists. This festival is such a big deal that people are already rehearsing their dances for next June. It was fun watching nearly 50 teenagers performing this dance. Pedro says they practice five days a week--that's dedication!
I can't believe we've only been here two days--I feel like so much has happened already. There will be much more to come tomorrow!