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“When I reflect on my experience with the Hearing for Humanity team in Malawi, Africa I am humbled by how much positive influence a few people can have on so many. I specifically remember arriving to each clinic site and everyday seeing a line of endless people hoping to receive our audiologic services. It is truly difficult to fathom the need for audiologic services in countries such as Malawi. Sure, the days were long and exhausting but nothing compares to the gratitude and appreciation each patient expressed to our team. I find it impossible to put into words the rewarding, humbling, and life-changing experiences volunteering in the field of audiology has to offer unless you can experience it yourself.”
--Paige Tatge, ASU Au.D. Student
Short-term humanitarian projects, such as Hearing for Humanity, need to partner with existing healthcare professionals in order to have sustainability and we view what we do in Malawi as a supporting role. The HFH program is committed to improving the access to ear and hearing healthcare in Malawi and our presence in Malawi one month per year helps to bring supplies, including hearing aids, and increased man-power to support our in-country partners. For short-term humanitarian programs like HFH to be successful and sustainable, it is essential to not only work closely with local partners but to also provide training to the residents of the country to strengthen local capacity and appropriate follow-up. The HFH program collaborates with in-country partners including Australian audiologists, Peter and Rebecca Bartlett with EARS, Inc. at the ABC Hearing Clinic and Training Centre at the African Bible College, as well as Dr. Courtney Caron with Sound Seekers, who is based at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital. The combined HFH/EARS team includes Malawian students in the ABC Audiology Technician Training Program who work alongside the ASU students and faculty to provide diagnostic and rehabilitative services as part of their clinical training. Since HFH is only able to travel to Malawi once a year, the local partners provide the needed interim follow-up services and help to coordinate the annual follow-up by the HFH/EARS team. As part of our collaboration, the ASU HFH faculty teach course modules in the training curriculum for the ABC students.
The HFH program also teaches the students about the ethics of providing humanitarian audiology.Ethically, hearing aids should be fitted responsibly by (1) only fitting individuals who can benefit from a hearing aid, (2) fitting hearing aids according to evidence-based practices, (3) ensuring that follow-up care is available and provided either locally or at a minimum through annual visits by the outside team, and (4) providing education and training of the individuals fit as well as teachers/parents who help to care for the hearing aids.