Open Ears is following a group of Sonova team members as they head to Haiti with the Hear The World Foundation. Nerissa Davies is an audiologist with Connect Hearing in Courtenay, BC, Canada. She has seven years experience in pediatric audiology is passionate about helping people of all ages hear and communicate with their loved ones.
Today was an amazing and wonderful day in Haiti. We got up early and enjoyed a delicious breakfast prepared by the stellar staff at New Life Children’s house, then after a pep talk from Cathy we drove out to the Deaf Academy in Leveque.
Honestly, I have never been so warmly welcomed anywhere in my life. The children swarmed out to meet us, with joyful smiles and hugs aplenty. Truly, I have never known children so eager to laugh, so generous with affection and so grateful for help. In particular, Mike (our on-site hearing aid technician) was a big hit with the young boys, who smothered him with hugs. Every time I looked at him, he had one boy in each arm, one boy clinging to each leg, and sometimes even a fifth one on his back! It was easy to see how pleased they were to have us and how hopeful they were that we could help them.
And so we set about doing just that.
After we met the Haiti team, the children sang us a song (in sign language, of course) and led us in prayer, then we set up the clinic in a lovely, breezy church building nearby and got to work. Each of us had an assigned role (mine was in hearing aid fittings), and we all understood that flexibility and cooperation were important. My colleagues set about the important task of testing the children’s hearing, to facilitate hearing aid fittings. Others also provided auditory and verbal assessments and therapies, learning where the children needed support and audiological fine-tuning. The level of energy and expertise in the building was palpable and it was very enriching to observe others doing their finest work. I feel very lucky, indeed.
The story I would love to share most is fitting a little guy (we’ll call him “J”) who got to try hearing aids for the first time. Mike and I set up the hearing aid fitting, and you could see the little fella just beaming in anticipation and hope. When the aids were switched on, somehow J’s smile got even wider than before, and he started imitating speech right away! He was able to make speech sounds immediately, and within a few minutes he was signing and saying words together. This from a child who has never heard a thing—not even his own name or the voice of his loved ones. I was moved to tears by what a bright child he was and how his life is going to change with his new ears.
Back at New Life with the team, we are all reliving the joys of the day and preparing to do some more good tomorrow. I remain extremely grateful for this remarkable opportunity to serve those who need it most.
–Nerissa, Connect Hearing Canada