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Starkey Hearing Institute Class of 2018

December 03, 2018

On December 3, 2018, Starkey Hearing Foundation celebrated the graduation of eight students from six African countries from the Starkey Hearing Institute in Lusaka, Zambia. After nine months of classes and intensive hands-on training, the students are now certified hearing care specialists. With the addition of these eight students, the Starkey Hearing Institute has now graduated 30 specialists working within Africa to increase access to hearing health care.

“Our family has grown today,” Richard Brown, Starkey Hearing Foundation president and board chair, told the crowd at the commencement ceremony, which took place on campus at the Starkey Hearing Institute.

The new graduates will return to their home countries and begin their new careers as hearing care specialists. They will work with other SHI alumni to implement the WFA Community-Based Hearing Healthcare model in an effort to make hearing healthcare more accessible to the estimated 50 million people with a hearing impairment in Africa.

Prior to the Starkey Hearing Institute, there was just one audiologist serving the country Zambia, Dr. Alfred Mwamba. Dr. Mwamba knew he could not help the over 750 thousand Zambians with hearing loss alone. Now, he is the executive director of the Starkey Hearing Institute. “These (students) are the next generation of innovators that will champion the fight against hearing loss,” he said.

“The personal growth and friendships made can never be explained” said Florence, a 2018 graduate. “We come from different backgrounds and cultures, but our African spirit is strong.”

In a powerful message, founder of Starkey Hearing Foundation, William F. Austin, stated, “We are capable to solve many problems, adapting to many challenges, and living in very difficult situations- but through that all we need hope.”

During the ceremony, the Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary emphasized, “There is hope for children now. Together we can change the narrative about hearing impairment.” Also in attendance was a representative from the office of the First Lady of Zambia.

“With hearing loss, there is no blood and no pain,” explained Tani Austin, co-founder of Starkey Hearing Foundation. “So, you can look strong and normal, yet you’re not connected to life.”

Providing hearing healthcare to those in need is a crucial part of helping people connect and improving the lives of individuals, their families, and communities around the world.

The goal of the Starkey Hearing Institute is to train 300 community-based hearing healthcare workers in Africa by 2030. To help us reach this goal, we invite you to sponsor a student through our Starkey Hearing Institute Scholarship program.

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