Giving people the chance to hear
On the 10th October, Sentebale completed the first two-day hearing mission in partnership with the Starkey Hearing Foundation to fit over 500 children, youth and adults with free hearing aids in Lesotho in southern Africa. This included over 250 children from Sentebale’s Care for Vulnerable Children Programme including some children from Kananelo Centre for the Deaf where Prince Harry visited in February this year.
People of Lesotho, ranging from children aged four years old to 101 years old, travelled from all parts of the small land-locked country to have their hearing assessed and aids fitted. For many, it was chance to hear for the very first time. One of the Starkey Hearing Foundation’s volunteers said; “We have been overwhelmed by the response. We just keep printing the registration papers because we do not want to turn anyone away.”
At the epicentre of the mission was Starkey Hearing Foundation’s founders, Bill and Tani Austin, Sentebale’s patron, Prince Seeiso of Lesotho and Cathy Ferrier, CEO. Before commencing the mission, Bill spoke to the many people who had travelled afar and told them; “Hearing brings meaning and purpose to our lives. You are never to old to hear and hear your children and family tell you that they love you…. We have to have the help of good governance to help the people and good partners like Sentebale; together we can make a difference.”
One 12-year-old boy from Kananelo Centre for the Deaf was given the nickname Mr Bean. During his hearing assessment it became apparent a bean was lodged in his ear canal causing severe loss of hearing. Having had foreign body removed and being fitted with aids, Mr Bean echoed Tani Austin’s speech test of repeating after her “Arrr” pitch perfectly.
Prince Seeiso, who recently returned from Dubai, was amongst those helping with the fitting of aids. He commented; “I wasn’t sure what to expect, but turning up that dial on the aid from zero to three and hearing ‘we are good to go,’ that is an amazing feeling…. We are seeing children wanting to talk to one and another, and their eyes tell a thousand stories.”
For many of these children, hearing impediments are a result of poverty and basic needs being unmet. Together, Sentebale and the Starkey Hearing Foundation are giving hope and opportunity to the Basotho people both young and old.
Cathy Ferrier, Sentebale CEO commented; “Seeing so many children hearing for the first time and starting to speak is a humbling experience. This is the beginning of a journey for many children to find their voice and Sentebale and the Starkey Hearing Foundation will continue to work and support them as they adjust to a world with sound.”
Prince Seeiso commented; “On behalf of myself, Prince Harry and Sentebale a big thanks goes to Starkey Hearing Foundation.”