“We’ve provided hearing aids in Africa, South America, Asia and now we are working our way into the Caribbean. So in as far as a month and a half, we’ve visited St. Lucia, St. Croix, Dominica. We did a big phase one training in Jamaica and now here we are in St.Kitts.”
Asked to comment on the general impact the Foundation makes on the lives of patients who hearing loss is corrected, Richards remarked: “Our founders Bill and Tani Austin, they’ve been doing it for more than 50 years now, providing the gift of hearing. On the Foundation side of it now, they’ve been doing it since 1984, providing hearing aids to those who can’t afford it and we go across the islands and go across the world, we find that the need is great.”
He continued: “In different countries, hearing loss considered a disability; persons are isolated from mainstream society so by providing the gift of hearing, we’ve seen the changes in people’s lives just by giving them sound. We’ve seen in situations where people who receive the gift of hearing and the next day they are out applying for a job. We’ve seen situations for kids who were not able to be in mainstream school, the next day they were registered to be…because they would have had speech but they would not have had their hearing (and) so with the hearing aid, you are taking them out of that environment.”
“There’s still this stigma about having a hearing loss and a hearing loss just means you have a disability and you’re put in a category but for Starkey Hearing Foundation, we don’t put people into categories so it’s our duty to ensure that if our hearing aids can help you to get to a different stage in life, we are going to provide you with that service,” Richards added.
Following the mission carried out on St.Kitts, the team journeyed to the sister island of Nevis to continue the ear care exercise yesterday (Thursday).
The head office for Starkey Hearing Foundation is located in Minnesota, USA.