Hearing aids, sewing machines wanted
Unwanted hearing aids may just be the key to helping people in some of the world’s poorest countries hear for the first time.
Kerikeri man Rob Buchanan with his charity MEND are helping people to hear with donations of old hearing aids and fitting them to the ears of adults and youth in countries including Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Nepal, India and the Philippines.
Buchanan travels every year to hearing-impaired schools and rehabilitation centres to help facilitate people with disabilities to be fitted with mobility equipment, provide access to corrective surgeries and skills training for future employment opportunities.
‘‘We are always looking for hearing aid donations, or people to sponsor a pair.’’
Buchanan says it costs around $140 to get one child hearing, which includes the hearing aids, audio assessment, batteries, and followup support. MEND fitted 17 kids in Mindanao in the Phillippines with hearing aids a few months ago.
‘‘Most people we see don’t have $20 to their name... so there is no way they can afford hearing aids or even bus fares. We look after those things and hearing aids give people opportunities.’’
Buchanan says it is so satisfying and dramatic when kids and youth hear any sound for the first time. ‘‘The first sounds they hear should be something nice, so we always start with soft music. When they hear music for the first time it takes a while to register, but then they start swaying to the music.’’
Buchanan says the deafness can be caused by many reasons including malaria, meningitis or an ear infection left untreated because a doctor or ear surgeon is too far away or expensive.
A new initiative this year for MEND has seen young women in Africa and Asia learn to sew. ‘‘If they can’t use their legs, they might be able to use their hands. It then offers them a future income in countries with little or no social welfare support.’’
The sewing projects are happening in Nepal, the Philippines and India, where they will make re-usable material bags for Buchanan to sell in New Zealand. Donated working sewing machines are a great help for this initiative, Buchanan says.
If you can help MEND with donations of sewing machines or hearing aids email email@example.com
Rob Buchanan says he can never get enough hearing aids to help those in need.