This October, nearly 150 attendees of the Oticongress 2016 conference participated in the humanitarian mission known as Project H.E.A.V.E.N. (Hearing and Vision Enhancement). The mission serves the needs of impoverished populations in Fiji’s remote, rural communities.
The Oticon Hearing Foundation, working side-by-side with Dr. Kitone Rawalai and his staff from Project H.E.A.V.E.N., arranged a series of daily clinics for the hearing care volunteers to provide screenings for more than 1000 villagers. Overall, 168 hearing aids were fit, over 1000 hearing tests were performed and hundreds of hearing aids and other medical equipment were donated.
Our teams and volunteers who participated made this mission incredibly impactful. These are their stories.
Meet Lavina Fowler
During her 3 days in Fiji, Lavina took a group of about 13 hearing care professionals and volunteers to a school to provide screenings for 220 children, ages 5 – 13.
As she described it, “I set up the equipment and worked with the health care providers from Fiji, who are supporting this program now that we’re gone. Once the team arrived, everyone divided themselves up into different roles. The team worked tirelessly and adapted to the environment. It was a very long busy day, but everyone came back from it saying, ‘This was probably the most rewarding thing I have ever done in my career’.
Her three days in Fiji were filled with inspiring memories, but one, in particular, stayed has stayed with her. An audiologist on her team who also has a hearing loss connected with students in a unique way.
She recounts, “At one point, we had a backlog of students waiting to have their hearing tested. An audiologist on our team decided to help by having all the students that were waiting sit in a circle on the floor, and she sang songs with them like “itsy bitsy spider”. But the most memorable thing, was when she was going through the alphabet song, and teaching them how to sign the letters.”
Overall, Lavina notes the importance of not only bringing hearing care to an in need area but bringing sustainability.
“This is an area of the world where they have not had a lot of resources for addressing hearing loss. So to be able to bring hearing to this environment and be able to sustain it – that’s the important thing. It’s one thing to take it there. It’s another thing to teach health care providers and provide them with equipment, so that once we leave they can continue the work.”
Stay tuned as we continue to share empowering stories around Project H.E.A.V.E.N and our time in Fiji.