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.
“I hope this van makes it up the hill,” Mohamed Khaldi excitedly said as our van went uphill on the extremely steep dirt road. Personally, I didn’t think the van would make it up with all our gear and passengers, but it proved me wrong. Who needs a 4X4 when you have a little Toyota HiAce with a faulty A/C system?
We finally arrived to the top of the hill. Wow! The school had a stunning view of the both the ocean and nearby forest covered rolling hills. The kids at this school were very lucky to be enrolled there. The school focused on encouraging, educating and empowering restaveks, orphans, and vulnerable children. Another organization was doing great things in Haiti. It was amazing.
“Listen to what Boss Lady says,” Zoe, our fixer/translator/guardian/historian/comedian, told us as we made it inside the school’s medical clinic.
After our team briefing and the trademarked Cathy Jones, “Everyone knows their roles! Let’s get to it!” speech, we got started on another busy day helping children.
Our stations were set up and students were already lined up to see us, however, there was one student who wasn’t in the same uniform. It turned out that this child, who the team affectionately called “Little G”, was definitely not a student of the school. He was brought to the clinic by his pastor and two local community members. His story was an amazing and inspiring one.
Little G lost both of his parents at a very young age. Orphaned, he was taken into the care of a local mission . At age 6, he had a severe fever and lost most of his hearing. Now 13, his pastor said he didn’t hear or speak, but he miraculously could understand people by reading their lips. Little G was a very bright kid.
The pastor learned that our Sonova team was going to visit the clinic from a contact, and Little G and his group traveled four hours in Haitian traffic to see us.
Cathy exclaimed, “We can’t let this little boy down. He may never get another chance to see us.”
Our Sonova team was on a mission to help this child in any way possible.
Little G went through each testing station and finally got to Sun Mi Gille’s station where she performed a diagnostic test on him.
“Beep, beep, boop,” went Sun Mi’s iPad as she changed frequency and amplitude during Little G’s hearing test. It turned out that Little G was profoundly deaf. This little guy really couldn’t hear a lot. It was amazing that he was able to read lips and understand people at a high level.
“What’s your recommendation?” Cathy asked Sun Mi and Sarah Beauliu.
They answered that he could benefit from hearing aids. So the team started to fit him with some Phonak Naida Q90 UP hearing aids.
Jenn Anyegah and Jason Norby started on the ear mold so they could get a temporary mold for his hearing aids. It looked like they were playing with clay as they pumped in the insta-mold mix into his ears. Little G was a trooper as he never made a sound or complained. The team really didn’t want to let this awesome kid down.
It took a while to shape and fit his ear molds, but the time came to program these Phonak products and see what they could do for this boy.
Who knew Little G could have a tremendous grin? All morning he patiently waited with his caretakers and never cracked a smile or any other visible emotion. Little G smiled and let out a low volume laugh when Jody Pogue turned on his programmed hearing aids. It worked! He could hear sounds that he couldn’t hear before.
The team’s audiologists knew that he would only hear a few new sounds and that the effectiveness of the hearing aids would be seen over time, but it was a great start for Little G.
Just like how our little Toyota Hiace made it up the hill, Little G overcame a lot of personal odds to get to us. It took a team effort to help him, but the team hoped that his life would start to improve for the better.
Michael Lumunsad is a Strategic Marketer who works at Advanced Bionics in Valencia, California.
He is passionate about annoying his friend Emily, asking a lot of ‘what if’ questions to his friend Jose, traveling the world, meeting awesome new people, brushing and flossing his teeth twice a day, and anything to do with his alma mater, the University of Southern California.