When The Red Thread team sees the faintest glimmer of hope to improve the life of a child with a disability, we JUMP! Each child is treated as if they are our own. We explore every option imaginable, even if it means coming to Haiti to accompany two blind boys to the ophthalmologist.
So that’s just what we did. This past Thursday, Sonya took two St. Vincent’s students—Frenel and Geraldo—to see one of the most highly regarded ophthalmologists in Haiti.
The testing process was very thorough, allowing the doctor to see the tiniest details of each boy’s eyes to help determine if either would be eligible for further treatment to restore any bit of sight.
The doctor explained two very different procedures that might be an option for Frenel, following the results of one additional test that will be performed at a later date. Both surgeries present serious risk factors that need to be considered before any course of action is decided upon, discussions that will involve the surgeon, Frenel’s mother, St. Vincent’s, and The Red Thread.
At the conclusion of the appointment, Sonya had the opportunity to speak with the doctor about The Red Thread’s care for these boys. She explained that we treat each child as though they are our own flesh and blood, doing everything we can to improve their health and wellbeing. She clarified that we would seek specialists in Haiti to perform any recommended procedures, and, only when all in-country options have been exhausted, would we put a child through the potential trauma international travel for treatment.
With this reassurance, he smiled broadly, and shook Sonya’s hand.
We are thrilled to share news of our hearing aid program in Haiti. Thanks to your generous support and our partnership with Team Canada Healing Hands, we were able to provide 15 digital hearing aids for students at St. Vincent's Center for Handicapped Children in Port-au-Prince!
Our partners, Team Canada Healing Hands conducted the hearing clinic where audiologists ran extensive testing on each child while audioprosthetists fit and programmed the hearing aids. Your donations provided the hardware: 15 brand new digital hearing aids that should last a minimum of 4 years, customized for each individual’s hearing loss.
We produced a short video that gives a virtual tour of the hearing clinic at St. Vincent's and shows how your contribution makes a differene. We hope you'll take a look (click on the link below entitled "Hearing Aid Video") and share this project with others. With your continued support, every hearing-impaired child at St. Vincent's will benefit from this gift!
It was such a joy to visit St. Vincent’s last week during our trip to Haiti. As soon as the kids saw us on campus, we savored hug after hug, kiss after kiss, and greetings in sign, Kreyol, English and French. After more than 2 years of work at St. Vincent’s, we can’t begin to express how wonderful it is that we now know these children so well that all of our faces light up when we see one another. We wouldn’t exchange those moments for the world!
Students donned new (to us) school uniforms, the latest school trend in hair braids and proudly showed off their new digital hearing aids! Thanks to our partnership with Team Canada Healing Hands, many more students are reaping the benefits of better hearing.
To date, The Red Thread Promise has purchased $21,000 worth of brand new digital hearing aids for hearing impaired students at St. Vincent’s. Team Canada purchases the aids at a deep discount and brings teams of audiologists to Haiti to test the children. Much like testing for glasses prescriptions, these specialized tests—performed in a sound-proof booth—help audiologists determine the exact type of hearing loss (i.e. high pitch vs. low pitch) for each individual child.
Following testing, if it has been determined that hearing aids will help the child, molds are made of their ear(s) for a custom fit. St. Vincent’s staff is working directly with the audiologists to learn the process of mold making, practicing every step of the way under the tutelege of Team Canada’s professionals. After the molds have set, the hearing aids are programmed specifically for each child’s individual hearing loss. The aids wrap around the ear and are fed through the mold directly into the ear.
In the past, the children have received analog aids, which act simply as a volume amplifier, increasing all sounds like a remote control on a TV. Digital hearing aids will better serve the children’s individual needs. Each is customized to amplify only what needs to be amplified, maximizing the benefit of the hearing aid for each child. And, if treated with care, they should last 6 or more years!
Our goal is to ensure that EVERY hearing impaired student at St. Vincent’s receives aids as necessary. With new students coming through their gates on a regular basis, the need continues. Your support helps us realize this dream and for this we thank you!
In April 2013, The Red Thread Promise will team up with Team Canada Healing Hands on the ground in Haiti for the first time! We are excited for this opportunity to work hands on—as one unified team—at St. Vincent’s Center for Handicapped Children (Port-au-Prince).Forty-two new children will be tested and fitted for digital hearing aids during this trip. This includes students who were too young to test in 2012 as well as any new hearing-impaired students enrolled at St. Vincent’s. While this is an increase in the number of students expected, we are up to the challenge of providing hearing aids for every one of them!During the trip, Kathy (Red Thread President) will take a turn in the sound isolation chamber and go through the same testing a child would endure to better understand the process. We plan to videotape our auditory adventure and share it with you.Following the testing, we need to purchase the digital hearing aids that will be customized for each child’s hearing loss. As an extended part of our team, we need your help to complete the process for the kids. The estimated cost of 50 hearing aids is $11,520 (US).Your continued support is the difference between living in a world of silence and a world filled with laughter. Thank you!
(photo of two students by Al Laus)
If the invisible red thread that connects The Red Thread Promise with our supporters, partners and the children we support were visible, the globe might start to look like a ball of red yarn.
Team Canada Healing Hands, a valued partner with us at St. Vincent's Center for Handicapped Children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, spent the last two weeks of October, 2012 fitting 70 children with new digital hearing aids, performing healing evaluations, training audiometry technicians to test patients’ hearing.
These digital hearing aids are so technologically superior to older analog hearing aids that manufacturers have almost completely discarded the old technology, and with good reason: digital hearing devices can detect the unique sound pattern of speech and amplify it while reducing the volume of other types of non-speech sounds, there is no feedback, and they are far more comfortable.
You, our supporters, donated the funds to purchase the hearing aids, and Team Canada Healing Hands provided the highly-skilled team of speech pathologists, audiologists, and other specialists required to fit the digital devices for each patient and perform testing on new patients.
Because the hearing aids require proper care and maintenance to ensure their long life, especially in the high humidity of Haiti, Team Canada donated five Dry & Store Global II boxes. These boxes hold several hearing aids at one time, and in approximately one hour each week removes damaging moisture accumulation, dries earwax, and sanitizes surfaces exposed to its germicidal lamp.
Team Canada also provided training and information to the teachers and staff at St. Vincent’s. In a country like Haiti, so ravaged by poverty and repeated natural disasters, there is no place that can provide the appropriate maintenance and care needed for digital hearing aids. So, along with alleviating the isolating deafness these children experience, The Red Thread Promise and Team Canada Healing Hands need to provide adequate technology training, just as we provide valued professional training to the student technicians in Haiti.
Your donations have made it possible to help “teach a person to fish” and create a sustainable and positive future for those we’re helping.
We continue our mission at St. Vincent’s with your help, as we return to Haiti to evaluate and fit more children with hearing aids, opening a whole new world of sound to these kids whose great affection and beautiful smiles continue to touch our hearts.
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