media release

photography project for young people with hearing loss

Staefa, Switzerland, February 26, 2015

The Hear the World Foundation, in collaboration with well-known Hamburg-based photographer Philipp Rathmer, has launched a very special project. In Malawi, young people with hearing loss who were provided with hearing aids by the foundation were challenged to photograph their favorite sounds, which they are now finally able to hear again. The result is a series of impressive images that offer a genuine insight into their rediscovery of the world of sound. 

What is your favorite sound? This is the question the Hear the World Foundation has been asking young people with hearing loss in Malawi who were recently fitted with new hearing aids donated by the Foundation. Under the guidance of Philipp Rathmer (www.philipprathmer.com), the teenagers used digital cameras donated by Fujifilm to answer that question in visual form.  Powered by their new hearing devices and their new cameras, the teens captured sounds and scenes from their everyday lives that portray their newly discovered world of sound. “What I particularly like about the photos is that they offer an authentic picture of the teenagers’ individual personalities and how they live,” said Philipp Rathmer.

One aspect of the project that is especially important to these young people is that the cameras enable them to openly interact with people around them. This is not something to take for granted, as children and young people with untreated hearing loss in developing countries often live on the fringes of society. One of the key aims of the project is to give them an opportunity, through photography, to escape from their isolation and build their self-confidence.

Providing successful support in Malawi since 2011

The Hear the World Foundation campaigns worldwide for equal opportunities and a better quality of life for people with hearing loss. It particularly supports projects designed to help children in need with impaired hearing. After all, unless they receive the audiological and medical care they require, children with hearing loss have difficulty learning to speak. In low-income countries like Malawi, the consequences of this are especially far-reaching: the children affected have almost no chance of receiving an education, they do not develop at an appropriate rate for their age, and as a result they face social exclusion.

The Hear the World Foundation has worked in Malawi since 2011 and was heavily involved in setting up the country’s first audiological clinic. It has also been supporting the clinic with expert assistance and financial aid, as well as donating hearing aids.

Philipp Rathmer supports Hear the World

Lady Gaga, Jay-Z, Christoph Waltz, Joachim Löw – celebrated Hamburg-based fashion and lifestyle photographer Philipp Rathmer has captured them all on camera, as well as many others. He has volunteered for Hear the World since 2011, producing such work as the highly publicized photo series “CHANCES*,” which chronicles the lives of children with hearing loss in Kenya. For the photography workshop in Malawi, Rathmer invited young people take his place behind the camera. The results speak for themselves: impressive images that offer a genuine insight into the children’s rediscovery of the world of sound. The project also shows that children and young people who receive treatment for hearing loss have the same chances and opportunities as their peers with normal hearing. The Hear the World Foundation intends to continue its activities in Malawi.

All of the photographs and further information about the Hear Malawi project can be found www.hear-the-world.com/hearmalawi.