News / Americas

    American Company Brings Hearing Aids to Haiti

    Frederic Rondeau of Starkey Hearing Foundation outfits a hearing aid for a Haitian child, Marchand Dessalines, Haiti, January 9, 2012.
    Frederic Rondeau of Starkey Hearing Foundation outfits a hearing aid for a Haitian child, Marchand Dessalines, Haiti, January 9, 2012.

    On a recent visit to Haiti, members of a private American foundation outfitted 400 Haitians with hearing aids. Some had lost their hearing aids in the rubble of the 2010 earthquake and hadn't been able to hear for nearly two years. Others, had not been able to hear since birth. 

    The silence sounds strange. More than a hundred people just sitting. Organizers call names, but others have to answer for them. Their silence is why they are here.

    Some wait for longer than seven hours. But the wait is worth it. Many will hear for the first time in their lives. Like Jean Louis Roberson, 38.

    He's never learned to talk. Because no one ever thought he could.  

    An American organization, the Starkey Hearing Foundation, travels to developing countries,  fitting people with hearing aids. On this day, they are in Marchand Dessalines, Haiti, two hours from the capital Port-au-Prince.

    There are no computers here in the Haitian countryside, no digital hearing analysis. And even these hearing aids - they’re not the latest technology. They are from the 1990s. But Starkey uses these to reach the most people.

    "Most of the people are from schools for the deaf," said Starkey. "They have severe to profound hearing loss and we're trying to maximize their potential to function in this environment."

    Barry Freeman says the foundation's work goes beyond the hearing aids.

    "We are going to see that his ears are clean, that there's no infection," he said.

    The foundation also trains Haitians to continue its efforts. The foundation invites celebrities to join its work. Starkey is producing a reality show about these stars volunteering with the needy.

    "You can do something and you should do something. Our challenge is ‘What will you do today?’” explains Bill Austin, the founder.

    Today, in Haiti, the celebrity is Miley Cyrus, an American pop singer and actress who starred in the Disney TV series Hannah Montana.

    "Being able to hear music is even more important than me being able to sing it myself.  Just being able to hear it and to feel each other and connect with each other," said Cyrus.

    Neighbors who are watching all this are speechless for other reasons.

    "They couldn't hear before and now they can," said a man.

    Jean Louis Roberson's aids are fully adjusted. He hears his voice for the first time. And, he can't stop talking.

    His words may sound crude and coarse. But to Roberson, hearing himself speak is music to his ears.

    * Don't miss: Path to Recovery, a Special Report from Haiti


    Carolyn Presutti

    Carolyn Presutti is an Emmy and Silver World Medal award winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters. She has also won numerous Associated Press TV, Radio, and Multimedia awards, as well as a Clarion for her TV coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, Google Glass & Other Wearables, and the 9/11 Anniversary.

    You May Like

    US Watching as North Korea Holds Biggest Political Meeting in 36 Years

    Workers' Party Congress set for Friday; Washington anticipating possibility of another missile launch or nuclear test as top officials gather

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    More Americas News

    Candidate Kuczynski: Investors Eager to Finance Peru's Infrastructure

    Ex-PM says a lunch with investors in US produced one offer of $5 billion; nation can finance projects 'without depleting our fiscal reserves,' he insists

    Canada Fire Hit as Government Cut Spending on Prevention, Planes

    In recent days raging wildfire has swept across the city of Fort McMurray, forcing a mass evacuation as hundreds of homes burned to the ground

    Canadian Officials Say Wildfire Conditions 'Extreme'

    Alberta government declares state of emergency, orders residents to evacuate communities of Anzac, Gregoire Lake Estates, Mackenzie County and Fort McMurray First Nation, an aboriginal reservation

    Smog Stays Bad; Mexico City Extends Traffic Cutback

    40 percent of cars and trucks are being ordered to stay off the streets Thursday

    US-Led Tourism Boom Has Cuba Hustling to Keep Up

    Influx of visitors has pushed capacity to the limit, prompting hotels to sharply increase prices

    Brazilian Senator Backs Impeachment Trial for Rousseff

    Senator Antonio Anastasia tells panel of lawmakers that charges against president are serious enough to remove her from office