Hearing screening in indigenous Embera communities
The year is ending with very positive changes and new opportunities for the Foundation
to Hear is to Live (Fundacion Oir es Vivir).
The end of 2013 has been a very important and emotional time for the Foundation Oir es Vivir which has expanded with the opening of its new Integral Center for Hearing Health, strategically located in the City of Knowledge, and with additional human resources.
On 22d of October 2013, the Foundation inaugurated its new center which now offers the possibility to Panamanians to go through the whole process of diagnosis, response and rehabilitation to hearing loss under one same roof. This helps ensure improved attention, strong follow-up and an overall more rapid process. In addition to new equipment, to undertake the algorithm of hearing exams which may be needed by patients, the center also includes a sound proof language therapy room and a sound proof cabin to allow for hearing tests to be conducted without exterior sound pollution. “It is very exciting to be able to do all the hearing exams and give the appropriate solutions all in the same place!” said Giovanna Troncoso, the President of the Foundation.
The Foundation’s team was recently completed with the arrival of a new Executive Director who joined the team early September this year. Alice Golay, who has previously worked for the United Nations in various
countries (Mali, Niger, Pakistan, Switzerland and Italy). will be focusing on ensuring that the Foundation can be sustainable and carry out its projects as planned to improve the life conditions of vulnerable households in Panama that are affected by hearing losses. Two interns also joined the Foundation during this trimester. A student in Auditive Health at the Specialized University of the Americas, which helps the Foundation team with the screenings in the field and attending patients at the new center, and a student in Law, who works on the effort to have a hearing screening law for all new-born children in Panama.
The Foundation continued its proactive awareness-raising through the organization of various events in the past months. Its 4th free Information Session for teachers took place on 16 October 2013 and was attended by more than 60 teachers from different schools of Panama City. Four lecturers were invited to talk (psychologists, pedagogists and other professional in the education sector) on themes that were related to the social inclusion of disabled children in classrooms. Lecturers also gave tips to teachers to help them detect hearing losses early enough. A round of “Free Hugs” also took place on 22 of September 2013 in one of Panama’s largest commercial center to attract attention on hearing disabilities which remain too often invisible. This was the third round of the “Free Hugs” activity undertaken by the Foundation so far.
Awareness raising and orientation at all levels of the Panamanian society remains one of the Foundation’s major focuses. Information-sharing at all levels in turns promotes improved social inclusion. It is key to help ensure the development of hearing impaired children’s abilities and to allow them to become fully active members of society.
This was further reinforced by the presence of Fundacion Oir es Vivir in various Medias throughout October and November. Interviews slots on the major Panama TV and radio channels (TVN2, Canal 37, Radio Panama, Omega Stereo, SER TV) were given to the Executive Director and the Hearing Specialists of the Foundation. This was a
great opportunity to remind the population of Panama of the importance of early detection of hearing problems to mitigate their impact on children’s abilities to develop language, have the opportunity to present the Foundation’s
activities and announce the exciting opening of the new Integral Center for Hearing Health in the City of Knowledge.
The Foundation continued to implement activities of hearing screenings in public schools in vulnerable communities for the timely detection and response of hearing problems. The Foundation also reached an indigenous community, Union Embera, during a field trip to do hearing exams at the end of October. The Foundation was part of an integrated medical team with personal from other organizations, and gave an orientation talk to parents on ear hygiene. The Foundation is developing a pilot project to ensure hearing health in remote communities of indigenous areas for which it will be looking for funds for implementation in 2014.
This year the Foundation has undertaken 1,100 screening in schools, companies, and in the office facilities
(that are currently being followed up). It has also provided hearing aids to 18 patients without low economic incomes and provided language therapy to six children.
Furthermore, the Foundation was also active in linking young hearing disabled people wishing to work with companies that are mobilized to give employment opportunities to disabled persons. The Foundation conducted the initial interviews and then gave recommendations to the companies (which included banks and sportswear companies). Various young disabled boys and girls are now successfully employed.
Fundacion Oir es Vivir is so grateful to its donors for allowing the implementation of its planned activities. A million thanks to all those who support Fundacion Oir es Vivir and you can follow us on facebook Fundacion Oir es Vivir and twitter OIRESVIVIRPTY. And check out the new website that is being developed at www.fundacionoiresvivir.org.
Intern Danezca performing a hearing test
3rd round of Free Hugs
Hearing screening in public schools
Inauguration of our new Center for Hearing Health
Dr Stella Rowley examining a little boy
Audiologist Ivis Reina performing a hearing exam
President of the Foundation Giovanna Troncoso