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Once Again in Afghanistan

October 04, 2018

In October 2018, the Bayat Foundation proudly hosted the annual Starkey Hearing Foundation WFA Community-Based Hearing HealthCare mission in Afghanistan on the grounds of the Bayat Media Center in Kabul. Now in its fifth consecutive year, the mission is the most important initiative in Afghanistan that supports people affected by deafness or hearing impairments.

The mission was established in 2014 when Starkey Hearing Foundation partnered with the Bayat Foundation to bring the gift of hearing to the many thousands of Afghans. Since it was first launched, the Hearing HealthCare mission has served more than 7,000 Afghan citizens with no discrimination based on age or gender.

Dr. Ehsan Bayat, Founder of the Bayat Foundation, explained that hearing impairment is a serious problem in Afghanistan. Estimates from the Afghanistan National Association of the Deaf suggest that approximately 34,000 children between the ages of seven and eighteen are affected by deafness, blindness or both.

In 2018, the Hearing HealthCare mission opened with the October 1 dedication ceremony, attended by a number of senior Afghan government officials, NGO representatives, civic leaders and other stakeholders. In the opening address, Dr. Bayat thanked Starkey Hearing Foundation and Mr. and Mrs. Austin for their support and commitment to helping give the gift of hearing to thousands of Afghans.

During the five days of the Hearing HealthCare mission, and using the WFA Community-Based Hearing HealthCare model, the regional team fit each patient with hearing aids, allowing many to connect with the world through sound for the first time. Three-year-old Ozair, for example, was born prematurely and had hearing loss from birth. After being fitted, he heard his mother’s voice for the first time and reacted with a smile that was priceless to her. At this year’s Hearing HealthCare mission, more than 1,240 people received care and treatment. With the support of our partner and local team, AfterCare services were available to all recipients, allowing our Afghanistan mission to have long-term sustainability.

Vida is a superb ambassador for our Afghan mission—she was the very first patient fitted by Bill Austin in 2014. She wears her hearing aids with self-confidence and values them in her life. She dropped into our mission this year for routine aftercare and stayed to help us in the fitting area. It is always a pleasure to see her, and we look forward to catching up with her in 2019.

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