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Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mérida

December 2016 Mexico

Our work in the Mexican cities of Tuxtla Gutierrez and Mérida garnered the attention of high ranking officials who recognized the importance of the Foundation’s mission and the work of co-founder Bill Austin in connecting families and strengthening communities through the gift of hearing.

Starkey Hearing Foundation returned to Tuxtla Gutierrez in the Mexican state of Chiapas for the first time in five years. Letitia Coello de Valesco, president of the Desarrollo Integral de la Familia (DIF), or the Mexican equivalent of a state Department of Human Services, emphasized the importance of public-private partnerships.

“We are very happy. Part of our job is to help people,” de Valesco said. “Starkey Hearing Foundation is helping us to do what we are supposed to do. At DIF, we take care of children and women, especially people who have small problems and big problems… It is very important to assist vulnerable people and we are very grateful. This is the only way for the government to go ahead – with the help of private enterprises. It’s the only way to get results.”  

In Tuxtla, the Foundation fit 441 patients with hearing aids. The team welcomed first-time mission volunteers David Illich, an audiologist from San Diego, and his wife, Kathleen, as well as Linda Daily, a Starkey Hearing Technologies audiologist also from San Diego. 

“The feeling is a combination of both exhausted and exhilarated,” David Illich said. “It was so wonderful to see all of the families with all of the patients we saw today. The stories of how they lost their hearing ranged from head trauma to ototoxicity. There were a lot of tears a lot of hugging. And a lot of appreciation. The Latin people are so kind and so appreciative. We just had a wonderful day of hugging and giving people the ability to communicate.”

One of the most inspiring patients of the Tuxtla mission was Christopher, a 7-year-old boy who lost his hearing two years ago due to complications from pneumonia. He developed a high fever and his heart stopped. It took three injections of adrenalin to revive Christopher. Today, he is a vibrant second-grader who loves to listen to Christian music and play soccer. His mother, Sari Castillo Lopez, expressed gratitude for the Foundation’s work in helping restore her son’s hearing.

“I am very happy because I want my son to be able to hear and understand his teacher,” she said. “I am always fighting for him to get a better opportunity. This is a very a proud moment.”

The team next traveled to Mérida, Yucatan, where 460 patients received hearing aids. Our team met Alvar Santiago Pacheco Jimenez, a 21-year-old farmer from the Yucatan city of Dzar. Alvar said he works with heavy machinery without adequate ear protection at his job sowing seeds on a citrus grove. He lost his hearing about a year ago. “I knew I needed hearing aids because I couldn’t understand what people said when they were talking to me,” Alvar said. “Now I can. I am excited to have conversations with my family and friends again.”

Yucatan Governor Rolando Zapata Bello visited our hearing mission, praising the efforts of Starkey Hearing Foundation and lauding SHF co-founder Bill Austin for his dedication to improving the lives of those in need.

“For all of society, it’s a way to reevaluate what human beings could do with human beings,” Bello said. “It is a great message, a message of solidarity and brotherhood, that we all must practice every day. Bill’s message and the message of the whole foundation is really inspiring and engages all of us as human beings to imitate it.” 

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