International Week of the Deaf

International Week of the Deaf

International Week of the Deaf 2017

John’s Story: Watch new video from our work in Zambia

On Day One of International Week of the Deaf (18th to 24th September 2017) , Sound Seekers are delighted to launch a new video, thanks to our Volunteer Tim Ringger from Sonova and The Hear the World Foundation who helped tell John’s story.

Watch the incredible moment when John, aged 88, gets his hearing back.

Meet John Kaonga from Zambia. He is 88 years old and has 12 children and too many grandchildren to count. John used to work on the farm but is now at home with his family and enjoys gardening at home. John had difficulty hearing for the past year, but didn’t seek any medical help. He relied on lip-reading to understand his family, and people often had to shout to speak to him. His 22 year old grandson heard about the Audiology Services at Ndola Central Hospital in Zambia, established by Sound Seekers. He brought his grandfather in to have his hearing checked.

John had his hearing tested by Anita Lungo, whose training as a Hearing Instrument Specialist was sponsored by Sound Seekers in 2016. This was the first time John had his hearing tested. He was diagnosed with severe sensorineural hearing loss in both ears. Within the same morning, Anita was able to take impressions, make ear moulds, and fit and test John with two new hearing aids, donated by Hear the World Foundation. John was amazed he could hear again and said:

“I am very happy and I can now talk to my grandchildren. Now I don’t feel jealous that other people are talking and I was unable to take part in the conversation.

“I can’t believe this!”

    

     

Before Sound Seekers’ support there were no audiology services in Ndola. There is a now a fully equipped audiology clinic and an ear mould lab within Ndola Central Hospital, and two trained Hearing Instrument Specialists to deliver much needed ear and hearing health services. The audiology services at Ndola Central Hospital also include a HARK vehicle (Hearing Assessment and Research Clinic) which provides mobile outreach services to remote and rural areas. This year the HARK is focusing on weekly outreach visits to primary schools in Ndola District to screen children for hearing loss. In addition, we have trained 96 community workers in Primary Ear and Hearing Care (PEHC) in Ndola where PEHC training and awareness has been delivered in local schools and health centres.

Sometimes it only take a little to make a huge impact.
Please help change the lives of more people like John.

Click here to donate now

 

Bankside Gallery donates 15% of framed prints

Bankside Gallery donates 15% of framed prints

Bankside Gallery donates 15% of framed prints

Bankside Gallery have generously offered to extend their support – 15% from purchases of framed prints from the RE Society’s Original Prints Exhibition (open until 3rd June 2017) will be donated to Sound Seekers – so please do visit Bankside Gallery again or their website. Please use Code SS01 and drop us an email to confirm your purchase. Click here for more details.

Bankside Gallery Event

Bankside Gallery Event

sound seekers gallery eventBankside Gallery has kindly offered to host a fundraising event for Sound Seekers on Thursday 12th May 2016 from 6-8pm.

The exhibition is on “Re Original Prints”, which feature new works by leading printmakers. Michael Barratt, the President of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers (RE), will be giving a speech. Bankside Gallery has generously offered to donate 20% of all sales on the night to Sound Seekers.

Traditional Malawi music will be performed by our Malawian MSc students and there will also be a silent auction. 

Please follow the link to our event to get your free tickets

A day in the life of an international audiologist volunteering in Malawi

A day in the life of an international audiologist volunteering in Malawi

Dr Courtney Caron, an Audiologist from the United States takes us through a day in her life as a Sound Seekers volunteer in Malawi.

There is no such thing as a typical day.  Every day is different.  The needs are different.  The patients are different.  What is needed from me is different.  I have to prioritise what is needed most on any particular day.  One thing is for sure though, a day in the life of an audiologist in Malawi is never boring.

Having dodged the chaos of Blantyre’s streets where carts loaded with the fruit of the season, bicycles loaded with charcoal or goats and ladies carrying 20 litres of water on their heads, weave in and out of the traffic.  I spend the first half an hour answering emails from Sound Seekers, audiology equipment manufacturers, potential volunteers, other NGOs and the Ministry of Health.

Patients start arriving around 8am for various appointments: hearing tests, vestibular/balance assessments, ear mould impressions, hearing aid fittings, etc.  There are usually one or two audiology officers taking patient histories and doing various tests but as the only audiologist in Blantyre, I try and review all patients’ tests and recommendations or assist with complex cases.  Patients vary as much as my daily activities.  I may see a 90 year old man with hearing loss due to old age, a three year child who has suffered from cerebral malaria, a 25 year old man with Down’s syndrome or a 40 year old woman who has received an antibiotic that is known to cause hearing loss.  Each patient is different and requires a different way to diagnosis and treat them.  It takes experience and knowledge as well as a little creativity to ensure all patients receive appropriate care.

There is one audiology officer in training and he requires some additional time from me to help with reviewing assignments, understanding intricate ideas or having additional hands-on training in order to help him succeed in his course.  I also have management activities to do in order to keep the Sound Seekers’ project and the audiology department running smoothly.  We are in the process of building a comprehensive audiology clinic so I have to do tasks such as identifying where the electrical outlets should be and sort through quotations to furnish the building.  My day ends around 5pm and I return home through the chaotic streets of Blantyre.

Sound Seekers celebrates 21 years of life-changing hearing care

Sound Seekers celebrates 21 years of life-changing hearing care

PRESS RELEASE: Sound Seekers, a UK charity dedicated to helping deaf people in some of the world’s poorest communities, celebrates its 21st anniversary this month. Coinciding with ‘International Week of the Deaf 2015′, Sound Seekers is taking the opportunity to celebrate its birthday and to thank its supporters and patrons – or ‘hearing heroes’ – which include Specsavers, Prince Andrew (HRH Duke of York), Big Brother 2013 winner Sam Evans, and many more.

Extending this celebration, Sound Seekers is this week inviting anyone who lives and works within the deaf community to nominate their own #HearingHeroes, whether they be an organisation, audiologist, nurse, patron, supporter, friend, or parent. The campaign provides an opportunity to thank those people who make a huge difference to the lives of deaf people around the world.

With an estimated 100,000 people who have been helped by the organisation, Sound Seekers continues delivering practical solutions to children and adults with hearing loss in developing countries, helping them to realise their ambitions of achieving an education or finding employment. Although these are basic expectations in the UK and most Western communities, audiology issues are not only considered a disability in many communities across Africa, but are also associated with other stigmas such as witchcraft, leaving deaf people shunned by society with little or no prospect of leading a normal life.

Working in partnership with local organisations and institutions, Sound Seekers initiates sustainable and cost-effective projects which advance the understanding of deaf people’s needs and enable children and adults to avoid or help overcome the effects of deafness. They also improve access to health services, education and social support. One of Sound Seekers’ most recent projects in Malawi enabled over 7000 people with hearing loss to be treated, with over 2000 adults and children being fitted with hearing aids for the first time.

Sound Seekers’ focus on providing sustainable support has also led to their involvement in the training of audiologists in countries such as Zambia, where there is only one qualified audiologist for the entire population of 15 million people, and Malawi, a country of 16 million, where there are no audiologists at all. This September, Sound Seekers has given four Malawians the opportunity to study for an MSc in Audiology at Manchester University. If successful, the students will be the first qualified Audiologists in Malawi, with the knowledge and expertise to successfully treat patients on the ground.

Emma Judge, Sound Seekers CEO, comments: “We are extremely excited to kick off ‘International Week of the Deaf’ with a joint initiative with one of our #HearingHeroes supporters, Specsavers. Specsavers Hearing Centres all across the UK are holding an entire month of activities to support Sound Seekers by helping us to raise money and awareness, as well as collecting old and unwanted hearing aids. These hearing aids will then be cleaned and refurbished by us, before redistribution to hearing-impaired people across six countries in Africa – a fantastic initiative that could make a huge difference to so many people.”

“While we are incredibly proud of our achievement to date, we still have much work to do,” continued Judge. “Like any charity, Sound Seekers relies solely on donations and fundraising to support our activities. We are extremely grateful to all those who have supported us over the last 21 years, and to those who continue to do so.”
The #HearingHeroes Campaign

Get involved with the #HearingHeroes campaign by nominating your #HearingHeroes on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, to thank the organisations, audiologists, nurses, patrons, supporters, friends or parents who have made a difference to you. You can also let us know who you’re saying thanks to, or find out more information about Sound Seekers, by finding us at Facebook.com/soundseekersorg, Tweeting us @SoundSeekers, or searching for Sound_Seekers on Instagram.

For more information on this press release email help@sound-seekers.org.uk

Big Brother winner Sam Evans heads new BBC Radio 4 Appeal

Big Brother winner Sam Evans heads new BBC Radio 4 Appeal

Big Brother winner Sam Evans is this week set to present a BBC Radio 4 appeal on behalf of UK charity Sound Seekers, calling for donations to help improve hearing care in some of the poorest communities of the developing world. Evans, who is severely deaf, has worked with the charity since 2014, helping to raise funds and awareness to support people with hearing loss, particularly children, in countries across Africa.

“I had the opportunity to visit Malawi with Sound Seekers last year and witnessed first-hand the devastating effects of suffering from deafness in the developing world,” commented Evans. “Having received all of the help and support I needed growing up severely deaf in the UK, I was shocked and saddened to see how different things are elsewhere in the world. Adults with hearing loss in developing countries across Africa are often unable to work, whilst children are isolated and ignored. I am extremely proud to work with Sound Seekers, who are really making a difference to these peoples’ lives, and building a future for audiology where previously there has been no hearing care provision at all.”

The charity is hoping that the BBC Radio 4 appeal will help raise funds to support activities like its ongoing project in Malawi, where the Sound Seekers team is currently working with the Government of Malawi to build the country’s first comprehensive audiology service. “We are very grateful to Sam for presenting this appeal on behalf of our organisation,” said Sound Seekers CEO, Emma Judge. “We have many projects which have the potential to change the lives of people with hearing loss, including increasing access to education for those excluded from school because they are deaf, however we are entirely dependent on funding to make these changes a reality. We are hopeful that people who hear the appeal will begin to understand the severity of the problem for developing countries, and will help us in providing the vital hearing care that is so desperately needed.”

The appeal is due to air for the first time on BBC Radio 4 on Sunday 13th September, at 7.55am, and is also available online via the Radio 4 website. Donations can also be made by calling 0800 404 8144, but only after the radio appeal has aired. Donations made before the radio appeal will not be received by Sound Seekers. Alternatively you can write a cheque to Sound Seekers and send it to Freepost, BBC Radio 4 Appeal, marking the back of the envelope ‘Sound Seekers’.

For more information on this press release email help@sound-seekers.org.uk

Sound Seekers project brings hope to Malawi

Sound Seekers project brings hope to Malawi

Sound Seekers, a national charity dedicated to helping deaf people in the world’s poorest communities, has recently returned from a week’s visit to Malawi, delivering vital aid to deaf communities. The visit also allowed the team to manage a number of ongoing projects and initiatives, and receive critical updates regarding their recent campaign with Specsavers Hearing Centres.

Sound Seekers’ current projects in Malawi are expected to provide hearing aids to around 2,000 adults and children, along with treating around 7,000 people for other causes of hearing loss. A further 3,500 people will be educated on ear care and hearing loss prevention, reflecting the charity’s commitment to providing sustainable aid and long-term solutions that will continue to benefit communities long after aid workers have returned to the UK. One of the biggest projects, however, is the construction of the country’s first comprehensive audiology service, based at Blantyre’s largest hospital. In addition to constructing the hearing unit, which is expected to serve over 10,000 people in three years, the charity is training African staff to identify and treat hearing loss so that deaf people can go to school and find work.

“We were amazed to see the developments since our last visit,” commented Lucy Carter, CEO, Sound Seekers. “With the help of some fantastic partner organisations and the Government here in Malawi, we are seeing real progress. Along with seeing the new audiology unit take shape, we were able to revisit children who received hearing aids and cochlear implants last year and watch them thriving. One of the children we met only months ago now has such good hearing that he is able to translate for his mother! It’s great to see the benefits of our services extending far beyond just those we are able to meet.”

The visit also provided an opportunity to get an update on the charity’s joint campaign with Specsavers Hearing Centres, initiated earlier this year. The campaign has so far seen thousands of old and unwanted hearing aids collected from Specsavers stores across the UK, before being cleaned, repurposed and redistributed to people in Africa with hearing loss.

“It is a very exciting time for Sound Seekers, as a number of our campaigns have come to fruition and are starting to make a real difference,” continued Carter. “Our recent partnership with Specsavers Hearcare has been hugely successful, and it is immensely rewarding to witness first-hand the benefits of the campaign. Our combined efforts are expected to change the lives of nearly 400,000 people in the community with hearing loss, and we are confident that we are well on the way to building a promising future for audiology in Malawi.”

Specsavers founder, Dame Mary Perkins, also commented: “Living in the UK, we are extremely lucky to have access to such robust hearing healthcare programmes. Overseas, charities like Sound Seekers are providing vital care to those who are not as fortunate. We are delighted to be supporting the great work that Sound Seekers provides in countries like Malawi.”

For more information on this press release email help@sound-seekers.org.uk

Congratulations to Ann-Marie on her 50 swims fundraising challenge

Congratulations to Ann-Marie on her 50 swims fundraising challenge

Ann-Marie who set herself a goal of completing 50 swims as a way of celebrating her 50th birthday last year has fundraised an amazing £425 for Sound Seekers, Here’s what she old us about her experience:

“I chose Sound Seekers after searching the web for a charity specialising in working with deaf people. Deafness is invisible and I wanted to raise awareness of the challenges faced by deaf people and the steps that can be taken to reduce the impact.

I contacted Sound Seekers by email and received a quick response from Lucy with more information, which confirmed to me that I had found the right charity. Throughout the year the Sound Seekers team kept in touch with me and took an interest in my progress.

Friends have commented on how worthwhile the work that Sound Seekers do is, so as well as raising some funds my objective of raising awareness has also been met.

The longest event and biggest single challenge was the Coniston End to End swim, a distance of 5.25 miles in Coniston Water.

My first event was the Loony Dook at South Queensferry on New Years Day when I wore an outfit inspired by Ursula from the Little Mermaid and was accompanied by my son-in-law as Ariel.

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There were a lot of training swims in the pool and some lovely swims in good scenery outdoors over the year. In May, I put my floral hat on and went for a swim at Achmelvich Bay near Lochinver in the North West Highlands. The water temperature was about 11C that day.

One of my favourite days involved swimming in all 10 pools run by Edinburgh Leisure in 1 day. I started before 6am at the Royal Commonwealth Pool and finished about 12 hours later at Drum Brae Leisure Centre. I swam over 11km and was accompanied in the final pool by my 3 year old granddaughter, her aunt drove me from pool to pool which let me eat and drink between swims.

There were foreign swims too in Montenegro (very rainy) and Egypt (very sunny).

The build up to the Coniston Water swim included a number of open water swims in the spectacular scenery of the Lake District and Loch Lomond.

On the day of the “big swim” the conditions were good and the atmosphere at the event was very encouraging. I felt a mix of excitement and apprehension, hoping that my build up had prepared me for the event. It was a well-organised event with good briefings and excellent safety cover. There were large markers in the water and feeding/drinks stations along the route, which allowed me to break it up into “lengths”.

It did not take long to settle into the swim, I had completed 2 and 3 miles training swims in Coniston Water so had visual points of reference to look out for. The safety canoes and feeding station volunteers created a safe and friendly environment on the water and before long I was eating a jelly baby and drinking some water at the 1st boat.

A piece of banana tasted wonderful in comparison with the water we were swimming in at 2.5 miles. It was heartening to think that we were approaching half way and I felt really happy.

One of my friends was helping out at the final feeding station located at about 4.5 miles. I don’t think everyone agreed with my response when she asked me how I was finding it at this point, which was a cheery “It is fun and there’s less than a mile to go!”

In the final section we had to contend with large sections of weed that got tangled around your body. Fortunately I had plenty of energy to adapt my stroke and reduce the effect of this. With the finish in sight and I found myself kicking a little more enthusiastically and was delighted to be able to stand up and walk out smiling.

5.25 miles completed in 3 hours and 9 minutes and I felt really good, even as I collected my bag I was thinking that a longer swim could be an option in 2015.”

We are so grateful for Ann-Marie’s support and well done with your challenge!

If you are feeling inspired and would like to take on a challenge by yourself or with a team, why don’t you check out  our running and challenge events to get some ideas.

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