Advanced Hearing Solutions recently joined an organization called Entheos Audiology Cooperative. Entheos Audiology Cooperative believes to take that privilege to areas of the world that do not have it. They believe they have the opportunity to change the course of a person’s life through hearing health care. The ability to hear can mean the difference between thriving or being left behind for people of all ages. A small act of charity can profoundly change lives. Entheos is proud of the many international mission trips that they have undertaken in the past and will continue to plan into the future. Some of their past destinations have included Haiti, Jordan, and Africa. After practicing as an audiologist for over 30 years, I now feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to participate with this organization.
As part of this group, I recently had the privilege to travel to Guatemala to provide hearing services to the underserved areas in the mountain/lake regions surrounding the town of Panajachel. This was an eye opening and humbling experience. We had to travel by bus, boat, and standing in the back of pick-up trucks to reach the remote areas where we provided our hearing health services. There were always lines of people waiting for us to arrive. Once we had our make shift clinic set up, we would then take a brief history and do a visual inspection of their ears. If they had wax, we would then remove the wax which was sometimes very challenging because it had been accumulating for years and could be quite impacted. Following the wax removal, we would do a hearing screening. If they passed, then they were complete. If they failed the screening, we would then conduct a hearing test. Based on their test results, we would then fit them with hearing aids using custom instant molds manufactured by some of our volunteers. We were able to fit hearing aids to all ages using donated behind the ear hearing aids. These donated hearing aids were supplied by patients and by hearing aid manufacturers. We fit children who had never heard before and didn’t know the sound of their parent’s voices. This was very emotional and resulted in a lot of happy tears. One of my favorite moments occurred when I worked with a teacher who had severely impacted wax along with a significant hearing loss. When I fit his hearing aid, he began to cry for the reason he was so overwhelmed with the thought that he now would be able to hear his students and his wife and four daughters. He said he has felt “invisible” for many years and now he will be able to be part of life again. He was extremely grateful; however, I also felt grateful that this experience left me feeling renewed. I believe that helping one of these individuals hear and reconnect to the world can cause a ripple effect. We may never know what positive affect these “hearing” individuals may have on others and the world. Will I go back? You bet I will, I plan on going on as many trips as I can. My next trip will to be Africa in June. I am currently looking for donated hearing aids and other supplies. To be continued …..