ADVOCACY Hearing loss or deafness can be devastating for a child, but in Haiti, they can be far more limiting than in the United States.
The day we know that Joulie heard her first sound, she was already 8 years old.
At 8 years old, Joulie would have probably enjoyed hearing a bedtime story from her mother, or saying goodbye to her sisters on her way to school each morning. At 8, she might have had a growing group of friends with whom she could have giggled and whispered secrets. She might have also had a chance to dance to her favorite music, and maybe even start playing an instrument.
But Joulie’s childhood was very different. She was born with hearing loss in Haiti. Families all over the world rally around children who are deaf or suffer from hearing loss, but for the multitudes of children in Haiti who are affected by this condition, the hurdles are often insurmountable due to the extreme poverty and lack of health care in the country.
The Hear the World Foundation has partnered with several organizations, including the Haiti Deaf Academy and the Commissioned Believers Deaf Ministry, to set up a long-term project called Hear Haiti.
This program is designed to provide early diagnosis for Haitian children with hearing loss through comprehensive hearing assessments, and to provide repair and maintenance services for existing devices. The Hear Haiti program also supports training for local residents to continue the work of providing follow-up care, a program feature that creates sustainability.
As part of the program, teams of volunteers from the Sonova Group, the corporate parent of the Hear the World Foundation, travel to the region multiple times a year to provide services and train new hearing care providers.
A Brighter Future
Today, Joulie is flourishing with her newfound abilities to reach out to others. When her device was first turned on, she was excited to listen to every new sound that she could. Now, she can sign amazingly well. Best of all was the day she went home and said “Momma” to a woman that likely never believed she would hear those words from her child. Thanks to Hear Haiti, Joulie and many other children on this island will have a chance to live an abundant life and fulfill their promise, and maybe be part of leading their country into a new and brighter future.