Open Ears is following a group of Sonova team members as they head to Haiti with the Hear The World Foundation. Jenn Brinn is a digital marketer who works at Sonova e-Hearing Care in Nashville, Tennessee. She is passionate about technology, travel, coffee, documentaries, and her family.
Over the years, The Hear the World Foundation has been sending volunteers on dozens of service trips with the mission of providing better access to hearing healthcare to those in need around the globe. Historically, these volunteers have been Sonova employees with a clinical audiology background; after all, the majority of the work on these trips is to fit and recheck hearing aids. Since starting work at Sonova a year-and-a-half ago, I would get the emails asking for volunteers for this or that service trip, but none of the qualification criteria matched my skill set.
In May, I finally got the email I’d been waiting for…the trip to Haiti in October of 2015 needed a communications volunteer. Seeing as my background and interests are in digital marketing and communications, this opportunity was a perfect fit. I applied, and in early July was notified that I was selected to be the first volunteer with a dedicated role of being the trip historian/documentarian. Since I am not an audiologist, I immediately began brainstorming how I could leverage my hobbies (and day job)–which consists of photography, videography, social media, and content creation–to best capture the spirit of the people we were setting out to serve. The answer, I would come to find out, was about to reveal itself to me in a way I wouldn’t have believed if I didn’t experience it for myself.
It began when our plane touched down in Port Au Price around 3 p.m. Sunday. The airport was small and crowded. The baggage claim carousel was chaos–people pulling bags off as quickly as they were released, elbowing one another out of the way, knocking into each other with luggage carts. Once the area cleared, my bag was nowhere to be found. After searching and waiting for over an hour, I surrendered to the fact that my luggage was either taken by mistake or stolen. Not wanting to hold up the team any longer, we loaded up the bus and headed to New Life Children’s Home where we would be staying for the week. I thought, surely in a few hours someone will call saying they had taken my bag by mistake and it would be returned to me. But by 9 p.m., my phone hadn’t rung. It was time to start asking my travel mates to borrow pajamas, a toothbrush, and something to sleep in. In the poorest country in the Americas, the only items I had to my name were the clothes on my back and my camera and computer, which I traveled with in my carry-on backpack. Talk about being out of your comfort zone!