Two Foundations Swiss and Panamanian. are teaming to bring the gift of hearing to needy children in Panama and creating lasting memories for all the volunteers involved and the Newsroom Panama staff who were fortunate enough to witness the wonder on a child’s face hearing a mother’s voice for the first time.
Stäfa, Switzerland – “Isai” A three-year-old Panamanian boy from a needy family who has lived with profound hearing loss since the age of one can hear again and is learning to talk with the chance to get an education thanks to a cochlear implant (CI) from the Hear the World Foundation.
But he still has a lot of practice to do before he will be able to articulate correctly and without professional speech therapy, along with his parents’ time and assistance, this would be impossible
He is the seventh Panama child with the gift of hearing enabled by the Foundation to face the additional challenges of growing up in a low income family in a country with the highest per-capita income in Latin America
In 2017, for the first time in its ten-year history, the Hear the World Foundation made hearing possible for three needy children with profound hearing loss in Panama, with donated cochlear implants.
In January this year, implants were successfully activated for four more children including Isai.
Six weeks later a Hear the World Foundation team traveled to Panama with CI experts from the Sonova subsidiary Advanced Bionics, to oversee the activation.
For Isai and three other children aged between two and four, the day marked the beginning of a new chapter in life: they can now hear, which gives them a chance to acquire speech, to obtain school education and to live independent lives.
Isai was born with healthy hearing. but as a premature baby, he was given medication, that damaged his hearing and he suffered profound hearing loss. Like most families in Panama, Isai’s family was unable to raise the thousands of dollars for an implant but thanks to the Hear the World Foundation, the complicated procedure was carried out professionally, at no cost to the family. However that is only the beginning.
“CI donation is a major challenge because, alongside the surgical procedure, it also calls for particularly intensive follow-up care,” says, Elena Torresani Director of the Hear the World initiative. “We are glad that we can count on the know-how of Advanced Bionics here.” Not only do the experts support the project on site and oversee the activations, they also pass on their comprehensive knowledge to local project partner FUNPROI’s audiologists in Panama, so they can monitor the CIs and conduct speech therapy.
“Isai will now also have three speech training sessions a week. to acquire what hearing children learn quite naturally in the first years of their lives. For the learning to be a success, the parents also have an important role to play: they are taught how to handle CIs and are given tips on how they can playfully assist their children at home.
“With all these measures, the Foundation not only makes it possible for children to hear but also guarantees sustained audiological all-round care in compliance with international standards.
Although Panama is one of the richest countries in Latin America, 26 percent of the population live in poverty. While the CSS is making considerable progress in hearing care, it only covers the costs of hearing solutions and speech therapy for a fraction of the population
FUNPROI (Fundación Pro Integración) is one of the country’s few institutions that bridges the gap in state healthcare and provides professional hearing care for needy children and youths with hearing loss, free of charge. The Hear the World Foundation has been assisting FUNPROI since 2013.
Founded in 2006 by Sonova, the Hear the World Foundation actively commits to needy people with hearing loss all around the world, particularly facilitating projects that benefit children to achieve age-appropriate development. Since its founding, the Swiss foundation has supported over 90 aid projects in 39 countries by providing funds, hearing technology and expertise More than 100 celebrity ambassadors, including stars like Bryan Adams, Cindy Crawford, Plácido Domingo, Annie Lennox and Sting, support the Foundation. www.hear-the-world.com/en
FUNPROI provides cost-free examinations, professional audiological care with hearing aids, and speech therapy. In 2014, FUNPROI received the Richard Seewald Award from the Hear the World Foundation for its extraordinary dedication. www.funproi.org
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