The Starkey Hearing Foundation embarked on a two-day mission to fit over 800 people with hearing aids on December 4 and 5.
The event, which was held on the grounds of the University of Technology in St Andrew was supported by the Government of Jamaica, the Ministry of Health, Digicel Foundation and the Bob Marley Foundation, and saw the group distributing custom hearing aids and training recipients on how to use and care for the devices.
Conducted in two phases, phase one of the mission, in June of this year, involved a team of audiologists from Starkey, conducting diagnostic assessments for hearing aid fittings. This assessment included, ear screening, cleaning if necessary, a voice test, and impressions of the inner ear from which custom molds were created.
Regional Coordinator for the Starkey group, Tami-Ann Young, said those targeted for the mission included students from the various schools for the deaf, patients from a database provided by the Jamaica Association of the Deaf, National Council for Senior Citizens, and others with disabilities.
Digicel Foundation donated over $1.7 million in support of Starkey’s mission, citing the fact that the average cost for a hearing aid ranges between $80,000 and $100,000, which many would not be able to afford.
“A majority of the recipients would be unable to afford hearing aids on their own. It was with this in mind that we decided to support Starkey’s mission. Digicel Foundation is committed to supporting our Special Needs community and though hearing aids are not a solution, they provide an opportunity for the deaf and hard of hearing to navigate more comfortably in society,” said Dane Richardson, CEO of Digicel Foundation.
Member of Parliament for East Rural St Andrew, Hon. Juliet Holness said, “This has been a rewarding experience. This is my second time coming to a Starkey mission and when you see the installation in a mom hearing her baby for the first time, in a child hearing their parent’s voice for the first time, I don’t think there’s anyone in this world who is human who is not moved to tears. For us who are able to hear, we take simple things for granted. For those who are benefitting from Starkey, they take it as an absolute gift, one that only God could have done better. For me, I hope this is not just a start, but a start and a continuation for Jamaica.”
Starkey which was established in 1984, has completed missions to countries in Africa, Asia, America, and in the Caribbean region, with the aim to provide services at no cost to beneficiaries.
More donations can be made at www.starkeyhearingfoundation.org.