Lusaka woman hears for the first time in 65 years

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STARKEY Institute, a global organization dedicated to delivering the best hearing experience possible around the world with award-winning hearing aid technology and innovative hearing solutions, yesterday had a free hearing session in Lusaka.

The joy on people’s faces after hearing a word after a long time of being unable to, could not go unnoticed. For some, it was their first time ever hearing a word. And among the over 500 people that gathered, some were those that had difficulties to hear, and for a few, they just needed to get their ears checked.

The campus is located in Lusaka’s Lusaka West area and currently existing in 19 countries in Africa, and equally in other continents.

Among the happy and lucky people yesterday Mariana Kangwa, 85, who finally got a chance to hear again today. She told Kalemba that the last time she heard was in 1958, as she suddenly lost her hearing on her wedding day.

“Am very happy today, my earring has been restored. My children will be very happy when they realise that I can hear their voices now,” she said.

Starkey is offering it’s services for free to the community and also empowering them with battery charged hearing aids which makes some sounds louder so that a person with hearing loss can listen, communicate, and participate more fully in daily activities. But it does not come alone, batteries for a year are also given for free.

Starkey Founder and Co-Founder, Bill Austin and Tani Austin said their works are completely directed by their charitable eager to help the community and ensure that everyone is given the opportunity to hear and connect to their loved ones, and that alone, adds meaning and purpose to their lives.

The couple shared how their love story began when their dreams collided. “I met Bill in 1989 at an airport and since then, we have been traveling. My mother was in the earing aid business, so I knew about it but I thought I was not doing enough. So when Billie told me about the service, caring and quality and said that that is what I wanted to do. And with his vision and mine, I have been the teacher finding people like Dr Mwamba that can work with us. We can not support everyone but we can be the backbone of this institution back here in Zambia,” Tani said.

“I really wanted to be a missionary doctor, I went to University and I took up a job to make ear pieces for people with hearing aids in order to make extra money while in school. I never cared about the hearing aspect because I was going to do more important things as a doctor. Then when I saw what it meant for people to hear again, it was nothing you could see anywhere elsewhere. I was connecting with their spirt and I knew I could help people which is why I wanted to be a missionary doctor. But I knew I could do something that I couldn’t do as a doctor because I could only see 20 to 25 pupils in a day. But now, I can help a million people because I can leverage my had through our awesome team,” he said.

They said that the institution graduated trainees in 2021 and 2022 and the number has actually doubled this year, stating that the ministry of health has been an instrumental of help in the process which has highly being to the advantage of their community work and mission. They also noted that earning loss is not a medical condition as it is something that can occur to one at birth, middle age, or old age too.

And Audiology doctor, Dr, Alfred Mwamba said the purpose of the Institute is to provide training to healthcare workers who will go and serve in their communities. He said this training is not only limited to Zambians but Africa as well as so far, 103 graduates have been trained who are currently serving in 19 countries across the Sub Saharanas q region.

He said since the interception of the institution in Zambia, over 12,000 individuals with over 24,000 hearing aids being provided to hearing impaired individuals that have been connected back into life and are serving as productive members in the community.

“We are currently working collaboratively with churches, schools and find the individuals within that community space but we also have programs here on campus where people can come anytime and we are able to service them with our equipment and staff for free,” Mwamba said.

By Buumba Mwitumwa

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