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Impact story: Revisiting Ralph in Lebanon

28. January 2022

15 years Hear the World Foundation

In celebration of our anniversary, we are taking the time to get back in touch with young protégés from around the world. Seeing them thrive alongside their peers in spite of the challenges of their individual situations is humbling – but also a huge source of inspiration to our team. We recently received an update from seven-year-old Ralph from Lebanon, whose profound hearing loss was diagnosed when he was just four months old. As it continued to worsen, the only way to improve his hearing was through a Cochlear implant, and the necessary surgery was performed in 2020.   

Our collaboration with the Institut de Rééducation Audio-Phonétique (IRAP) and Houri Hearing in Beirut dates back to 2017. While Ralph’s surgery was a success, Hear World’s Lebanon project has faced its fair share of bumps in the road over the past years. Besides the coronavirus pandemic, the region has been facing political and economic instability, and the explosions in the Beirut port district in August 2020 had serious consequences for the local population.

New hope for locals and Syrian refugees

Despite these adversities, we have been able to diagnose and fit roughly 100 Lebanese and Syrian children with hearing aids since the start of the #HearLebanon project. However, due to his profound hearing loss, hearing aids did not provide sufficient amplification for Ralph. Following last year’s surgery, his Cochlear implant was successfully activated. With his family present during the post-surgery checkup, a much-anticipated, magical moment occurred. As he was finally able to discern the sounds produced by the attending audiologist, his face lit up with joy. In the months that followed, he eagerly attended school and therapy sessions whenever the circumstances allowed.  

A mother’s determination

Due to the pandemic and in light of the economic crisis, Ralph’s therapy sadly came to a standstill. It has since been Ralph’s mother Silvia who has single-handedly and persistently continued to practice with him. She is happy to report that he recognizes and responds to his name and, while he can’t yet clearly identify them, he is able to hear the noises that surround him at home. Life in general has changed thanks to his improved hearing, as he is now much more alert and aware of his surroundings. This also means he no longer feels constrained by the challenges of the present: he is dreaming of a future as an engineer, chef or police officer.

Persevering in the face of adversity

With Ralph’s tireless enthusiasm and determination, his mother is confident that his comprehension and speech will continue to improve. The effect on Sylvia has also been profound, as she is no longer as concerned for her son’s safety as she was before the surgery. He is now alert to the sounds of his surroundings such as traffic, and moving through everyday life has become much less dangerous. She also sees a major improvement in his social skills and his contentment in general when it comes to his interactions with family and peers. We are hopeful that Ralph will soon be reunited with his auditory-verbal therapy team. In the meantime, we wish him and his family all the best!

Read more about the #HearLebanon project.