As soon as we walked through the gate of Haiti Deaf Academy, each one of us were hugged and greeted with huge smiles. We only worked with the children for a few days, but I’m sure the impact they have had on my view of the world will stay with me for the rest of my life. I am surprised by how many of the little details I can remember about each child. Rose taught me my first words in sign language, Albert allowed us into his world by painting beautiful pictures for us. Beu even taught me a new way to style my hair! It is amazing how kids can just pull on your heartstrings, allowing you to just love them instantly.
I came on this trip fully expecting a life changing experience. What I didn’t expect was that the similarities between our worlds would affect me as much as the differences.
Earlier this week, the team agreed that we were here to work (and we have!). In addition to testing for hearing loss, fitting, and follow-up of the children at the Haiti Deaf Academy, we were compelled to do more than that, and we provided other services for other at-risk groups for hearing loss, as time permitted. One of these extra projects came when we were invited to do hearing screenings for students of The Respire Haiti Christian School.
Day 3: Today was an amazing and wonderful day in Haiti. We got up early and enjoyed a delicious breakfast prepared by the stellar staff at New Life Children’s house, then after a pep talk from Cathy we drove out to the Deaf Academy in Leveque.
Honestly, I have never been so warmly welcomed anywhere in my life. The children swarmed out to meet us, with joyful smiles and hugs aplenty. Truly, I have never known children so eager to laugh, so generous with affection and so grateful for help. In particular, Mike (our on-site hearing aid technician) was a big hit with the young boys, who smothered him with hugs. Every time I looked at him, he had one boy in each arm, one boy clinging to each leg, and sometimes even a fifth one on his back! It was easy to see how pleased they were to have us and how hopeful they were that we could help them.
At Phonak, we are committed to fighting the stigma attached to hearing loss, to tearing down barriers for the hearing-impaired and to finding new and innovative ways to help everyone reconnect to the beauty of sound. We also know that individuals play a strong role in breaking down those stigmas.
To celebrate those in our community who are being open and proud of their hearing situations, we’ve teamed up with some of our favorite Instagrammers, and asked them to capture their personality and signature looks, and show us what it really means to live with hearing loss.
Last week, we featured 20-year-old Eloise Garland, a music student from the UK.
She is an inspiration to many people – especially teens – with hearing loss, both in what she’s accomplished in her personal life, as well as the unique way she shows of her hearing aids with cool stickers and decorations that she sells on her Etsy.com store, Rainbow Tubes.
You can share your story with us too using the hashtag #lifeison on Instagram! Together we can break down the stigmas of hearing loss.
If you’re active on social media, you probably have a list of hashtags you use when sharing photos about hearing loss. #HearingLoss, of course, #LifeIsOn – the official Phonak hashtag – and others such as #hardofhearing #deafkidsrock and #hearingaids. One hashtag campaign, however, recently gained international attention, with the important message: #ShowYourAids.
The #ShowYourAids social media campaign exploded this summer thanks to one young woman, Emma Rudkin, who knows from experience how tough it can be to wear hearing aids proudly.
Emma, a 19-year-old Texas native and this year’s Miss San Antonio, started the social media movement and non-profit, Aid The Silent, to raise awareness and support for the deaf community.
I talked with her about the #ShowYourAids movement and how she gained the courage to show off her Phonak hearing aids.
Some years ago I met up with a few girls I was in kindergarten with. It was really fun to meet them as adults, and we got on great, although we weren’t all exactly friends when we were in school together. I saw them as the “popular” girls and they didn’t seem to be very interested in me. As I was mentioning that, one of them remarked that it wasn’t they didn’t like me, but that I didn’t really speak to them or answer when they spoke to me. Continue reading “Never Mind, It’s Not Important”
Getting involved in charity work raises a lot of questions on what the right way to do things is. I have the privilege of being a member of the Hear the World Foundation since it was initiated in 2006. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to help. But spending the money wisely is not as easy as it sounds. What kind of projects should we support? How do we define sustainability? There are so many deserving projects out there, how do you choose?
One learning has been the importance of visiting projects personally. It’s been a mere week since I returned from Haiti. I cannot stop thinking about what I have seen there. You can say it has truly gotten under my skin.
Through the month of October, Philadelphia’s City Hall has the artwork of deaf children, ranging from ages 5 to 18 in grades k-12. Drawings, paintings, sculptures, and even articles of clothing are encased in glass for spectators to see. Obviously, hearing loss does not impair one’s ability to create visual art. Though I was very excited to see this show, I also wondered what the specific appeal would be for art created by deaf individuals.
Once I got to the show, I was very surprised by the profundity, detail, and depth of each piece on display.
Greetings from Haiti! We are Samantha McKendrick and Marisa Breslin, blogging from the brightly colored picnic table at New Life Children’s Home in Port au Prince.
We were invited by Hear the World to participate in this amazing project known as Hear Haiti. Sam works for Phonak Canada in the Inside Sales Department and Marisa works for Phonak US as a Technical Support Audiologist. We are very excited to work alongside many other Sonova employees representing North America in this inspiring project.