Expanding to Burundi
August 16, 2019
With the support of the Ministry of Health and a group of dedicated local volunteers, the Starkey Hearing Foundation regional team went to Bujumbura to help Burundians suffering from hearing loss.
The mission took place at the Public Garden of Bujumbura, located at the center of the city. Patients started eagerly flocking to the gate very early that morning. According to the gate keepers, a few people even came the day before to make sure they do not miss out on the opportunity to hear again.
The blazing sun did not keep the team from working tirelessly to provide the best services for the patients. Serving more than 400 patients in a day was proof of the simplicity and the scalability of the WFA® Community-Based Hearing Healthcare Model. Even though it was our first mission in Burundi, it was nothing short of successful and it definitely helped raise awareness on the often-overlooked issues that hearing loss represents. “This is a real eye-opener,” said the Health Minister, who came to visit in the afternoon, “I didn’t know we would have that many hearing-impaired people,” he later added.
One patient that stood out during our visit was Nduwayo Odette. She lost her hearing at the age of 14, ending her dream of becoming an actress. She is now a mother of four and after receiving her hearing aids, she shared with us that she was most looking forward to getting home so she could hear the father of her children say “I love you” to her.
We also met Pinkihashika Pascal, a 74-year-old gentleman who, due to his hearing loss, had been disconnected from this family and community for several years until he visited us that August day. To him, being able to hear again was “a miracle from God”.
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