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.
In an effort to bring hope and healing to hearing-impaired orphans and children at St. Vincent’s Center for Handicapped Children in Port-au-Prince, The Red Thread Promise has teamed with Team Canada Healing Hands to provide hearing / audiological services to children in need. Our partnership allows both groups to focus on different aspects of the project, capitalizing on our individual strengths, with one common goal: to give the gift of hearing to as many children in Haiti as possible.
Team Canada has spearheaded the construction of an audiology booth onsite at St. Vincent’s. Also called a sound isolation chamber, this booth is used by audiologists to accurately evaluate the children's degree of hearing loss and make appropriate recommendations for treatment and / or hearing aids. Technicians in the group make molds, conduct hearing aid testing and fitting sessions, provide follow ups and maintenance.
The Red Thread Promise has taken on the challenge of raising funds to purchase 500 NEW digital hearing aids: enough for each hearing impaired child at St. Vincent's as well as stocking the permanent hearing clinic for the surrounding community. Children who previously had used analog aids will receive new digital aids specifically programmed for their hearing loss. Orphans who only had one aid but needed two will receive two.
Our goal is lofty—500 hearing aids by the end of 2012. To date, we have raised $5,000 to purchase 16 hearing aids. For each donation of $300, The Red Thread Promise can purchase and donate one digital hearing aid to a child in need. Such a small price for an invaluable gift!
Sure, that may be an odd title for an update, but the news is wonderful! If you've been following our care of little Christopher from Haiti, you already know that at a very young age he was diagnosed with sickle cell disease in his home country. The Red Thread Promise has been supporting his medical care for almost 3 years as he waited for his adoption to an American family to be complete. Thankfully, the wait is over!
In January, Christopher was finally issued his passport and came to the US to be with 8 new siblings (4 adopted from Haiti as well) and 2 loving parents. And, true to our word, we continued to support his care for the disease by arranging for him to be seen by sickle cell specialist, Dr. Julie Kanter in New Orleans, Louisiana.
On March 10, The Red Thread converged on the pediatric unit at Tulane Hospital for Children and the Sickle Cell Center of Southern Louisiana. And there he was, Christopher, on US soil! It was a beautiful moment that we had waited so long for—in his mother's arms, watching classic cartoons in the waiting room.
We were ushered into an exam room and met by very friendly social workers and Dr. Kanter. She explained everything that would happen that afternoon: blood tests, pathology, a "sickle cell 101" session, etc. We discussed Christopher's current health and reviewed what we knew of his care and treatment in Haiti. Following our appointment, Dr. Kanter would review his labs and determine the kind of sickle cell he has, make referrals for specialists closer to the family's home, and develop a long-term treatment plan.
The next morning we returned for the follow up and Dr. Kanter delivered the best news that we could have hoped for: based on extensive blood work and tests, Christopher does not have sickle cell disease! However, she did determine that he does have sickle cell trait, the genetic code for passing on the disease. After the jumping for joy and dancing concluded, we asked Dr. Kanter two key questions:
Dr. Kanter suspects that a single test was done by the Haitian doctors to form their opinion. She explained that this particular test is by far the least expensive and that it will indeed pick up any trace of sickle cell. However, Dr. Kanter explained that the test does not distinguish between sickle cell disease and sickle cell trait, a critical distinction. Unless the hospital did further testing—like what was done in Louisiana—the doctors incorrectly concluded that he has the disease. We are unsure if this additional testing is even available in Haiti. However, we learned valuable information about sickle cell disease and trait that will help us in our support of the next child. And, the news is positive for other orphans suspected of having this painful disease—blood can be drawn on the child in question and brought to the US to complete the test and get conclusive results.
For Christopher this means that he won't have to be on penicillin and folic acid for the rest of his life or undergo yearly testing to detect his propensity for strokes. He won’t have painful episodes that often lead to hospitalization and blood transfusions. Since he has sickle cell trait, it does mean there is a 25% chance that he will pass along the trait or the disease to his children.
We couldn't be more thrilled with 3 years of work on behalf of this one precious child:
Together, we did for him what we would do for our own child: get testing done, get second opinions and explore all options for treatment. We rest assured that our love for every child knows no boundaries, in sickness and in health. And we are thankful for your support.
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