Did you know that approximately 466 million people worldwide are affected by hearing loss? Around 80 percent of them live in low-to middle-income countries, where they have very limited access to hearing care. This can have grave consequences, particularly for children, because those who cannot hear do not learn to speak and have little chance of getting a school education.
This is where the Hear the World Foundation gets involved. For over twelve years, this Sonova corporate foundation has been supporting projects around the world that give people in need, especially children, access to audiological care, hearing solutions, and auditory-verbal therapy, thus opening up their future prospects.
In Peru, for example, there is a shortage of professionals, with only ten audiologists for 32 million people – so few hearing tests were being conducted on children. This is why the Hear the World Foundation, together with the World Wide Hearing Foundation, launched a project in 2016 focused on the detection and treatment of hearing loss. By the end of 2018, over 31,000 children had been tested, 430 of whom were diagnosed with hearing loss and given hearing aids.
In our activity report last year, we reported on our successful charity gala. The impressive sum raised at this fundraising event enabled us to start a new project in Vietnam this year, providing cochlear implants for children with profound hearing loss.
We are particularly grateful for the wonderful support we receive from our ambassadors. This past July, German singer-songwriter and Hear the World ambassador Gregor Meyle supported our project in South Africa. With a team of volunteers, he visited the township of Khayelitsha, where he helped screen children’s hearing and shared his musical talents with them.
In the past year, we were emotionally moved by the story of twelve-year-old Isaiah Baier from Texas who lost his hearing as a toddler to meningitis. Last year, he wrote a book about his life to encourage other children with hearing loss. He is donating book sale proceeds to the Hear the World Foundation, which has so far been able to give 30 hearing aids to children in need in Guatemala. As a result, Isaiah visited our Guatemala project and witnessed the donated hearing aids being fitted on children.
We are pleased to tell you more about these and other Hear the World Foundation activities on the following pages. All in all, 23 projects in 19 countries were supported over the past financial year, and over 1,400 hearing solutions were donated.
This is the last time that I will address you as President of the Hear the World Foundation. For me, holding this office for six years has been a great pleasure and source of pride. I am very pleased that Arnd Kaldowski, Sonova’s CEO, will be my successor in the Hear the World Foundation. Arnd will commit strongly to the interests of the foundation, out of conviction. This is because we have also set ourselves lofty goals for the coming year – constantly motivated to get closer to implementing our vision of a world where everyone enjoys the delight of hearing. We would be pleased if you were to actively help us make it happen!
President of the Hear the World Foundation