Volunteering in Kiribati

an unforgettable experience

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Annemarie Lindner, audiologist from Sonova Australia and employee representative on the Hear the World Advisory Board, traveled to the Pacific island nation of Kiribati in June 2016. There she visited the School and Centre for Children with Special Needs. The aim of her deployment was to provide the school children with new hearing aids and to teach the local staff members how to use the hearing aids on a daily basis.

In the interview with Hear the World she was talking about her impressions:

What was your first impression of the school? 
The school is very clean, well-organized, and structured. When I arrived, I was immediately greeted with a warm welcome from the principal of the school. The school does not just care for children with hearing loss, but also children with different disabilities from the age of 5 to 17, and it is the only establishment of its kind in the whole island nation.

What will you take with you from your voluntary work?
The trip to Kiribati was an unbelievable experience – it is a fascinating country. The majority of the country lies less than two meters above sea level and it is devastating to see how the rising sea level has already affected the lives of the population. I have learned that it is important to inform people about why I am visiting the country and what exactly I am doing in order to gain understanding for my work and access to the people. Music and dance are important aspects of life in Kiribati. I was impressed to see how children with profound hearing loss were able to dance along to the beat of a drum.

It was moving to see how the children with hearing loss danced in the front row and proudly showed off their hearing aids!»
Annemarie Lindner, Audiologist at Sonova Australia

Was there a particular experience that was unforgettable? 
There were many, actually, but one experience particularly moved me. On the last day of my visit, the school invited a VIP guest. The children had been practicing and rehearsing for it throughout the whole week. It was moving to see how the children with hearing loss danced in the front row and proudly showed off the hearing aids that we were able to donate to them from Hear the World.

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During her five days there in Kiribati, Annemarie Lindner trained a total of 7 local staff members, fitted 6 new hearing aids, and carried out 12 follow-up examinations.