Hear­ing aids, sewing ma­chines wanted

The Bay Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BAYLEY MOOR

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 mend@xtra.co.nz

Rob Buchanan says he can never get enough hear­ing aids to help those in need.

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