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Zambia, Haiti, Guatemala, and Jordan.
Through Entheos Audiology Cooperative, dozens of audiologists and volunteers were able to travel to these four countries so far in 2017 to bring people the gift of hearing. Our own Dr. Kamal Elliot, her husband, and two student associates were able to travel to Guatemala in January of this year.
Entheos is a way for audiologists to reconnect with the reason for their work through serving others. The goal is to bring greater meaning to the work done day in and day out by empowering communities around the world to take initiative with hearing healthcare.
Hearing loss is universal across the world. The effects of it can be astounding: isolation from community, work, and school, inability to communicate with others, causing a stint in learning and development, and a lower quality of life. Dr. Mary Thorpe, an audiologist who travelled to Zambia, reminds us, “People are people wherever you go. These people are no different than you and me.”
Entheos and A&E Audiology want to create long-term solutions in these countries, not just short-term fixes that won’t last. Tweet This
The hope is to help the underprivileged and lift them to a level where they can do something.
Dr. Kamal Elliot remembers a time when she removed a bead from a young girl’s ear. It had been affecting her hearing for nine years. It’s something we have trouble understanding. When you see third world problems, it really puts our own problems into perspective.
By partnering with the community, we can empower the people to care for themselves. Volunteers from the home country help the audiologists to understand the culture and the community they are immersed in. These volunteers step up by translating, helping patients as they experience first-time hearing healthcare, and even helping the audiologists with testing. A volunteer from Zambia said, “If you help us, why can’t we stand and help ourselves?”
That’s why Entheos exists. And that’s why we are a part of Entheos.
There’s only so much that a group of people visiting these countries can do before it’s time to head back to the States. Every audiologist wants to help as many people as possible, but care is never compromised. Each patient seen in these countries receives the same care and time as a patient would in a practice back home.
“These trips bring back joy. It rejuvenates what you are and what you do,” explains Dr. Elliot.
Some people who travel to see the group of audiologists and volunteers walk for miles. Some ride buses for hours just for a chance to be seen by a doctor.
According to the World Health Organization, approximately 5% of the world’s population suffer from hearing loss. That’s 360 million people who need access to hearing health care.
It’s not possible to see everyone during every trip, but it is possible to keep coming back. So they do. They return to communities, often welcomed with smiles and hope.
And for Dr. Elliot, this goes deeper. Seeing and hearing a three-year-old girl speak for the first time, the smile that spread wide across her face. Dr. Elliot calls it a hearing smile, a smile the results from the gift of hearing.
“Once you’ve seen a hearing smile, you get the hope,” she says. “I have to keep coming back.” Tweet This
The truth is, the people of Entheos–the volunteers, the audiologists–they don’t see themselves as the heroes. The real heroes are the patients. They go from people isolated by hearing loss to people who rise up within their own communities to become heroes to their own people. They fulfill roles they couldn’t have with hearing loss.
We just get the chance to walk alongside them.
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