Keenan lives with his parents and 2-year-old brother in the bustling Indonesian capital, Jakarta. He is among a growing number of children in the Western Pacific region to receive donated hearing aids.
He loves trains, planes, Spiderman and Batman but unlike other little boys, he has Waardenburg syndrome – a rare genetic disorder that has left him with very little hearing. Keenan also has piercing blue eyes – this unusual pigmentation is another trait caused by congenital syndrome.
Growing up with a hearing loss in an area with limited access to support can be very difficult. His mum Herning said she was upset to find out that Keenan had hearing loss. “I was very depressed when I found out,” she said. “A hearing aid is extremely expensive for us. I cried a lot.”
Determined to give her son the best chance possible, Herning began a long process of finding help for Keenan. After tracking down several NGOs and health clinics she eventually connected with Ear Science Institute Australia.
Our Lions Hearing Aid Bank initiative, supported by the Lions Hearing Foundation, gives clients visiting a Lions Hearing Clinic for new hearing aids the opportunity to donate their old ones. The clinics then clean and refurbish the donated hearing aids, and give them to people in need. People like Keenan.
Herning said the hearing aids had transformed her son in a miraculous way. Keenan was now more comfortable attending a regular school, even though he was the only student with hearing loss.
“It makes me really happy he can hear me or his father laugh. He is smiling and happy – of course, it means the world to us.”
“We believe he can be anything he wants.”
Since embarking on the journey to get help for Keenan, Herning started a community support group for parents of children with hearing loss called ‘Pecahkan Kesunyian’ – meaning ‘Breaking the Silence.’
Using social media, she reaches out to other families who need help but can’t afford hearing aids.
Last year, the Lions Hearing Aid Bank provided her with 13 pairs of hearing aids for other Indonesian children in need, and there are a further eight pairs of hearing aids en route to Herning right now.
“I might not have the money to help others but I can help them to find the organisation that will provide hearing aids for their children,” she said“My husband and I make new friends and they are like family as well.”
“So thank you Lions Hearing Clinic, you have changed our lives.”