Making a Difference in Haiti

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.

Happy in Haiti with hearing aids.

It is surprising how many people are not aware of the plight of this country. Many thought it’s a great place to get a tan on a pristine beach under a warm Caribbean sun.  Well….the sun is indeed warm. This is what Wipikedia has to say on the topic

“Poverty in Haiti affects its people in many aspects of everyday life, including housing, nutrition, education, healthcare, infant mortality rates, as well as environment. Levels of poverty in Haiti are generally regarded as among the most severe in the western hemisphere.”

I’ve also been asked, by those who are aware of the conditions in Haiti, whether it is right to prioritize amplification over more basic needs.  Or in other words, is hearing loss the biggest problem on the island.

The only way out of poverty is having a skill that leads to employment. Many come to the deaf school without any language skills, they don’t even know their name or how old they are. Without language no vocational training, without a job no way out of poverty.

What I loved about the Hear Haiti project is the quality of the audiological care the children get. A team of Sonova employees, this time supported by an expert team from Cincinnati Children Hospital, goes out three times a year. When on the ground the children are tested both subjectively and objectively, hearing aid fitting is verified  and they get state of the art Naida Q hearing aids. Just as important the project foresees training three locals. The first person is on board, she can do listening checks, exchange tubing, and trouble shoot. Her daily presence at the school ensure the hearing aids are always in working order.

If you want to support a small and sustainable project where funds go directly to the children in need check out the website for Haiti Deaf Children Home. You can sponsor a child partially or fully. A full sponsorship costs a mere $50 a month. This covers schooling, clothes, food and shelter.

I can’t wait for the next project visit. It makes what we do meaningful and while we cannot change the world at once, making a small difference in someone’s life is significant nevertheless.

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