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In April 2017, a seven-strong team from Sonova volunteered in Peru for five days. Their goal was to test the hearing of at least 1,000 school children together with Peruvian volunteers.

Seven Sonova volunteers from different countries who work in various Group companies (Phonak, Advanced Bionics, Sonova, Boots Hearingcare, and Connect Hearing) traveled to Lima, Peru in April. Through their work, they supported the pilot project, which has the aim of conducting a total of 30,000 hearing screenings within the next two years in Peru.

Sonova employees pass on valuable knowledge
The Sonova volunteers from the US, Switzerland, Australia, Vietnam, the United Kingdom, and Brazil not only conducted hearing tests, but also provided advice and suggestions to the Peruvian volunteers. The latter were mainly speech therapists and they received hearing-test training with the iPad app Shoebox and an introduction to otoscopy. During the one-week mission, the Peruvian volunteers were able to rely on the knowledge of the Sonova audiologists, ask questions, and get expert opinions time and time again. In return, the Peruvian volunteers helped break down language barriers among those from Sonova.

“It doesn’t hurt”
On the first day of screenings, all of the volunteers and the project partner, the World Wide Hearing Foundation, met in a school in a suburb of Lima, where they discussed all the processes before everyone assumed their role. Three stations were set up to allow the volunteers to work as efficiently as possible: Otoscopy, simple hearing tests with an app, and a station for follow-up tests for children who had not passed the first hearing test. Many children were scared just of the prospect of otoscopy. “Why is somebody looking in my ear?” asked one child and other children asked the volunteers again and again whether or not it would hurt or offered each other reassurance by saying “it doesn't hurt”.

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Over 1,000 children tested
During the five-day period, a total of 1,049 hearing screenings were conducted in two schools in poorer suburbs of Lima. Ten of these children were diagnosed with hearing loss. 14 children had ear infections, a damaged ear drum, or foreign bodies in their ear. Nine teachers were also diagnosed with hearing loss and ear wax has to be removed from 226 children. These follow-up treatments will be carried out in a non-profit clinic.

Informing parents and teachers
Providing parents and teachers with information was a huge part of this mission. During a parents’ evening, employees of the World Wide Hearing Foundation explained why we conducted the hearing tests for the children, the hearing test procedure, and why it is so important. Another important topic of this evening was preventing hearing loss as well as issues surrounding hearing health. The parents were very interested and the team had to answer lots of questions about hearing. Two Sonova employees put together marketing material for the project in order to reach even more parents and teachers in the future.

More about this project