Open Ears is following a group of Sonova team members as they head to Haiti with the Hear The World Foundation. Michael Lumunsad is a Strategic Marketer at Advanced Bionics LLC. He enjoys talking about the most random topics with his AB coworkers, Brendan, Jiselle, and Jessica.
Written on the sign was “12 JANVYE 2010 – AYITI PAP BLIYE” which means, “12 January 2010 – Haiti Will Not Forget”.
As we passed the 2010 earthquake memorial, we were reminded of why our Hear the World team and many other humanitarian teams were in Haiti. We came to help the people who were victims of the tremendous tragedy. Three million people were affected and more than 250,000 people died. The new memorial was built on the mass grave of these people and it’s supposed to remind the world of how many innocent lives were lost in this wonderful country.
Our two vans made the hour drive to a coastal school near Port-au-Prince. We were greeted by energetic and laughing children who wanted hugs from each and every one of us. These kids and their families were the survivors of the earthquake and they will be the future of the country.
We were honored to visit two classes of deaf children. Their educators were also deaf and taught their classes in sign language. The students and teachers introduced themselves in sign and signed a moving song for all of us. These kids were extremely friendly and wouldn’t leave our sides as we went off to start our work.
“Everyone knows their roles! Let’s get to it!” Cathy Jones exclaimed. Like an army of ants we started to set up all the various stations to test the babies in the local community. Registration, OAE, ABRs, otoscopy, play audiometry, and tympanometry. I was assigned to shadow all the groups and document everything going on that day for our Hear the World social media channels.
“Wow, these kids are awesome,” said Sun Mi Gille as she worked in OAEs with Lindsey Melvin and Haley B. Kurzawa. The kids we saw were well behaved, but there were few who were a little scared of our team members. Lots of tears were shed by a handful of the kiddos. I gained a greater appreciation for Pediatric Audiologists who work with kids every day because it was definitely a handful. Even though the kids were amazing, all of us were all exhausted by late afternoon.
“I need a foot massage and some ice cream,” Sun Mi said after we packed up our stuff after seeing all the kids. I downed my first bottles of water since we had arrived at the school and quickly shoved a Cliff Bar into my mouth imagining it were a juicy piece of Louisiana Famous Fried Chicken. I couldn’t wait to get back to the New Life for Children guest house to eat dinner and relax. I was starving.
When we left the school, we took a quick tour of the new houses that were being built for the local community. Bright and colorful, these houses were simple but a lot nicer than many of the other places we passed by in Port-au-Prince. The non-profit organization building these homes was definitely making a positive impact on the lives of the residents.
On the way back to the guest house we made a quick stop by the group home where a lot of the deaf school children reside. Like earlier in the morning, they all greeted us with laughter and wanted us to take pictures of them and pose for selfies. “Wow, Sarah has some nice dance moves,” said Reece Radford as Sarah Beaulieu danced with the kids. Seeing them made me understand that even the smallest help my team provided today would have a direct impact for the future of this country. It was definitely inspiring to see that the future of Haiti is bright.
Michael Lumunsad is a Strategic Marketer who works at Advanced Bionics in Valencia, California.
He is passionate about his being the Yelp Duke of his favorite restaurants, running the Culver City Stairs on Sunday morning, painting Star Wars inspired landscapes, and anything to do with his alma mater, the University of Southern California.