Starkey Full Circle…
Among other things going on while we aren’t hosting teams, I have been able to focus a good amount of my time lately on our program with the Starkey Hearing Foundation (SHF). I jumped into this program in Haiti after it has been developing for a while now. I had some catch up and organizing to do after two back to back teams, but I feel I am back on track.
I have been given the opportunity to work with the SHF in their efforts in Haiti via WWV since December. I have been involved from the beginning phase of coordinating and visiting a new site to for ear impressions, to returning to the same site with ear molds and hearing aids!
Recently I had the chance to visit a School for the Deaf in an effort to carry out ‘Phase III’ of the SHF/WWV project here in Haiti. Back in February when Derek was here with me from Starkey we visited this same school to check up on the students and see how they were adjusting to their new hearing aids-find out if there were any issues or new impressions we needed to do. Unknown to us there were a great deal of new students who now attend the school and we ended up doing over 60 impressions that day.
Among the new students needing impressions were a few returning students who were in need of new molds or repaired aids. The climate in Haiti, water damage and general use are all reasons the aids needed to be repaired. Derek took those aids back with him to the Starkey Laboratories in Minnesota to be repaired and in February when SHF joined me in February they brought with them the repaired aids. I got the chance to take them to the kids at the school when Starkey left after their Haiti mission.
It was a different kind of mission. It was only me and Jamil (WWV Haitian staff), there was no chaos or strange people running around; just Jamil, me and the students. We were able to chat and laugh with one another; it was a whole different kind of mission.
These students were given and entrusted with hearing aids and when it broke they made a decision to give it back to me. I can’t imagine the things that went on in their heads…they don’t know how much this costs, telling them “it happens, things break-it’s not your fault…it’s OK!” got me hesitant reactions at first, but one by one they began to believe me.
When I returned with their hearing aids they saw it come full circle; they sheepishly approached me on that day back in February when Derek and I were busily doing unexpected ear molds with hopes I could remedy their situation right there. They trusted me with their key to a hearing world, they looked in my eyes and nodded when I told them it would be sent to the US, fixed and brought back to them.
When I DID return I got hugs, high fives, smiles and heartfelt ‘thank yous’ when I showed up to return to them THEIR hearing aid; fixed and working like new!
It was a remarkable experience to say the least. Of all the things I have done in Haiti thus far, the look on faces when someone in a community recognizes me or a team member, the golden moment when they realize ‘you came back, you said you came back and you did..’ I so often get to experience that in my role here in Haiti, but this was a completely different version of the same great feeling. I am so fortunate and blessed by my job…