ACCORDING to the World Health Organisation (WHO), some 360 million people globally are affected by a ‘disabling hearing loss’ – meaning everyday sounds, like light traffic and general conversational speech, cannot be clearly heard.
It’s a sobering statistic, particularly given the impact a hearing loss can have on the quality of life. Children with the condition often experience delays in speech development, affecting their academic abilities as well as their ability to form friendships. Adults may find family relationships becoming strained, or struggle to find and maintain employment.
Affected groups are not distributed equally. WHO’s research demonstrates that developing countries have the greatest prevalence of hearing-impaired people, particularly through rural areas across South East Asia, the Asia Pacific and sub-Saharan Africa.
That’s where the international charitable service of Ear Science Institute Australia is working to fill the gap. The Subiaco-based not-for-profit organisation works collaboratively with several other volunteer-run organisations to provide these focal areas with hearing technologies.
Across the past five years, Ear Science, in collaboration with Lions Hearing Foundation WA, has established The Lions Hearing Aid Bank of WA to collect and service hundreds of preowned or unwanted hearing aid technologies. The technologies are then redistributed, not only close to home in Perth but overseas in areas such as the Philippines, Indonesia and Kenya.
The Lions Hearing Aid Bank’s most recent donations to Filipino-based medical mission, RSL Angeles City, resulted in the fitting of 44 Filipino children in need of hearing devices. RSL Angeles City hearing aid coordinator Greg Mann said the fitting day was filled with happiness for the children who had yearned to be able to hear for so long.
“[One boy, for example,] got his hearing aid in February 2015, when he was 13 years old,” Greg said.
“[He] used to be an introvert. He was often teased and bullied for his speech and for not listening to others.
“Now he is more accepted and it has changed his confidence outlook on life.
“To say that the hearing aid program changes lives is an understatement.”
Donations to Bikabele supports Panti Asuhan Semara Putra orphanage – a facility for 60-90 intellectually-impaired children (including about 35 hearing impaired children) in Klungkung, Bali.
The third donation partner is The Three Musketeers Children’s Fund: an Australian-based charity set up by its founders in memory of their three children, who tragically died in a car crash in 2013.
The Three Musketeers Children’s Fund provides hearing devices to children in remote Kenya, in particular in honour of their daughter, Saoirse, who had worn an implantable cochlear device to be able to hear.
Ear Science is dedicated to making both a local and international difference. If you or your loved ones have an unused or unwanted hearing aid, we invite you to drop it off at one of our Lions Hearing Clinics, so we can use it to change a life.