Hear Haiti: The Road to Sustainability

Open Ears is following a group of Sonova team members as they head to Haiti with the Hear The World Foundation. Nate Schau is the Customer Care Audiology Trainer for Phonak US, he has and awesome wife, two beautiful daughters and is an avid fan of the Chicago Cubs.

Day 4:
Today was our third full day in Haiti. We woke in the morning to another wonderful breakfast prepared by the staff at New Life. We quickly loaded up our vans with our equipment and headed to Leveque. This is my second trip to Haiti to work in the community of Leveque. The goal of the Hear Haiti program is to create a sustainable hearing health program. Since my first trip, I have seen much progress toward this goal and today was no different.
When we first went to Leveque yesterday I was excited to see that the children that have been previously fit are still wearing their hearing instruments and getting benefit from them. But for the Hear Haiti program to continue, it can’t just end there. Sustainability means many things–it means that in addition to fitting hearing instruments, we need to follow up and check the hearing instruments periodically. It also means that the children who are fit also receive continued auditory and verbal training. It also means that we continue to train the local, on-site nurse who helps take care of the day-to-day questions and troubleshooting that may arise with the hearing instruments.
When we arrived in Leveque today, we immediately went to work setting up our clinic for the day.

As we worked to build this sustainable program we continued to perform new hearing tests and finished following up with the children at the school who were previously fitted. We checked and verified their hearing aids, while others provided auditory assessments and training. This follow up care and training is important to the future success of these children.
In order to build a sustainable program, we must also immerse our self in the community and understand the culture. To that end, this afternoon we fit many adult members of the community with hearing aids. It was rewarding to see their faces light up as we turned their hearing instruments on for the first time!
In order for this program to remain viable, the community of Leveque must remain supportive—of both Hear the World and to those living with disabilities in their town. To continue demonstrating and encouraging that support, members of the hearing impaired community were invited to set up a market today outside of the clinic to sell crafts that the made themselves, which the Hear Haiti team was able to purchase. If all we do is come in to town every few months, fit a few hearing aids, then leave, yes, we can still make an impact; but, we can make a larger impact by helping members of the community support their families. Having a wife and two daughters of my own, I was excited to see so much jewelry, which I knew they would appreciate as well.
All in all, we want the community to understand that Hear the World is here to help EVERYONE and work along side the community to provide the best hearing health care to everyone who needs it.
I am grateful to be part of building this program, and I can’t wait to see how far our new friends have come the next time we visit!
–Nate

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